BELOW IS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT of my recent conversation with Savannah Chili Bowl organizer Ginger Fawcett (who’s also the lead vocalist for the area rock band Liquid Ginger):
You and Danny Mitchell started this Savannah Chili Bowl fund-raiser three years ago. I know you have obvious ties to the local music community, as the vocalist of Liquid Ginger. What is Danny’s connection to this cause?
Ginger Fawcett: Well, he’s my fiancee. We’re a team in this. The Help Save One of Our Own Foundation was formed many, many years ago to help with the medical expenses of a local woman named Elizabeth Ritzert. The organization has continued on since and helped several others. I just wanted to do something a little different and keep it going, so my fiancee and I worked together to create this annual music and food event.
How was Christian Newell selected to be the beneficiary of this event?
Ginger Fawcett: I was taking to my neighbor Wendy Newell, and I knew that her son Christian had some issue with surgeries, but I did not know the extent of his health issues. Christian plays with my 12-year-old son Landon in our neighborhood, and he might appear to be in normal health if you were to just see him out and about, but he’s actually very ill. I had no idea to what degree he was suffering. His family’s insurance covers much of his treatment, but he and his mom Wendy have to go repeatedly to Ohio for tests. Christian’s father is serving in Iraq right now, and they just didn’t know how they could handle the travel expenses. Luckily, they were eligible to be considered for the Help Save One of Our Own Foundation, and so we can make them beneficiaries of this event.
This is the third year for this Chili Bowl. What are the approximate net proceeds that have been raised at the past two events?
Ginger Fawcett: The first year we raised almost $7,000 — which was really something, because it rained terribly and that hurt our turnout. Then, last year, we raised almost $17,000. This year, there’s no telling how much we’ll raise — especially because we’re raffling off a Harley Davidson Sportster 883L and a matching motorcycle trailer that have been donated by Harley Davidson of Savannah. Together they’re worth close to $12,500. The raffle tickets are only $20 each, and there’s only a couple thousand of them, so there is a very good chance of winning. It would be ridiculous not to at least buy one ticket, since all the proceeds go to such a worthy cause.
Who else besides the two guys from Boys Like Girls and Liquid Ginger will be appearing?
Ginger Fawcett: We’ll have a solo set by local country singer Jason Courtenay, some young people from Sing Savannah and a new local four-piece girl group called Olive, which will soon release their debut CD. They’ll join my band Liquid Ginger to sing backup on some of our songs, and then our band will back them up on some of their own material.
This is the first time there have been major, chart-topping artists involved in the Chili Bowl. Do you expect there will be a much bigger crowd as a result?
Ginger Fawcett: Yes, we do. Although I should mention that the first year, we had Drake Bell from Nickelodeon’s The Josh & Drake Show.
Sure, but he’s not on the same level as Boys Like Girls.
Ginger Fawcett: True, he’s not as big a name, or has had as much chart success. But he was such a trooper! It rained so hard that day, and he refused to cancel. He said he’d come to play and he didn’t want to disappoint any of the fans who’d come there to hear him. Somebody wound up holding an umbrella over his head onstage, and he signed autographs for everyone who’d waited in line.
How did the group Boys Like Girls in particular become involved with this event? Was this something that was arranged through the radio sponsor Kiss-FM?
Ginger Fawcett: Through 97.3 FM. They’re friends with the station’s program manager Russ. They’re coming here specifically for this event. They’re not on tour anywhere near Savannah. I think they’re playing in Boston the next night. Russ made some phone calls and arranged for them to come and play for us. Their record company is paying all their expenses, so it’s not costing us anything.
How long will each act play for, and exactly what time will the duo from Boys Like Girls hit the stage?
Ginger Fawcett: They’ll go on right around 3:30 pm and play for about 45 minutes.
How many different food vendors will be on site?
Ginger Fawcett: We have about 15 different chili teams competing this year, and this is the first time we have had individuals as well as restaurants in the competition. Off the top of my head, I know we’ll have teams from Wild Wings, Bahama Bob’s, Tubby’s in Thunderbolt, the Dawg House Grill, the North Beach Grill, Café Loco, Coaches Corner and Pour Larry’s. Spanky’s is also providing chicken fingers and fries. Roger Wood donates hot dogs and Kroger provides the buns. We’ll have Budweiser and coke products to drink as well.
What happens in the event of inclement weather?
Ginger Fawcett: Well, they’re saying there’s a 30 percent chance of rain, and if we do have to cancel the event, I don’t know that we’ll be able to come up with a backup day and place where all the performers and vendors could reschedule. However, we’re banking on raising a lot of funds with that motorcycle and trailer raffle, even if the event itself doesn’t generate a ton of proceeds. That’s what it’s really all about: collecting money for this family so they don’t have to worry so much about things like this.
Where else can people buy these raffle tickets?
Ginger Fawcett: They’ll have them at Harley Davidson of Savannah on I-95, at Spanky’s on the Southside and of course at all of our Liquid Ginger gigs between now and the day of the drawing.
Tell me a bit about the other activities you have on tap for the event.
Ginger Fawcett: We have about ten flag football teams. We’ll be doing single elimination, and let me tell you, things can get crazy out there! In the past, teams have actually been known to fly in ringers from professional teams. We have several restaurants, the Chatham Academy and Armstrong University.
What about for young children?
Ginger Fawcett: The Kids Section is gonna be outrageous this year! We’ll have face painting, and there’s a guy coming with a business called Games 2 U. He has a big mobile unit that opens up on one side and up to 16 people can play video games there. The other side has four mega screens that allow people to play Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Then, he has a huge setup of inflatable bunkers and barricades he puts up in the park, and it becomes the largest game of laser tag. Up to 50 people can play at once.
3rd Annual Savannah Chili Bowl
When: Noon - 5 pm, Sunday
Where: Forsyth Park
Cost: Free (money raised through refreshment sales and donations)