Alyssa Kvidt, left, and Natalie Dunn hold up the winning poster design for this year’s Public Safety Chili Cookoff. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Natalie Dunn came up with eye-catching images. Alyssa Kvidt discovered the perfect font. Together, their visuals are featured in this year’s promotional poster for the Public Safety Chili Cook-off, which is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the rodeo grounds.

Students in Nicole Stueve’s desktop publishing class at Philomath High School worked on the project. Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said there were roughly 27 students that produced 30 or so posters.

“Just personally, I love the fun feel to the cartoon characters,” Rueben said. “But I also really think it’s important for the font to grab you with more of a Western feel to it.”

Organizers of the annual event have limited dollars to spend on promotion and poster design can be an expensive endeavor — it was an expense that was endured through the cook-off’s first 18 years.

“We used to pay a company like $1,500 to design the poster,” Rueben said. “It’s all good because that’s money we now don’t have to spend … it would be $1,500 less going to a really good veterans charity so it’s a big deal.”

Beyond easing those budgetary constraints, Rueben wanted to incorporate more involvement from the community, so he reached out to Stueve at the high school.

Rueben said about 40 individuals voted on the original posters with each picking their top three. The designs of Dunn and Kvidt stood out and elements of each were combined to create the final product.

“We’ve done that every year … where we find parts of ones (posters) and merge them,” Rueben said. “We were always worried that the kids would be offended.”

Rueben said the class instructor assured him that they could manipulate the artwork to fit their needs. Added the chief, “The class was great this year.”

The posters have been printed on glossy stock and distributed to chili cook-off participants — the number is currently up to 26 — to display in businesses and online. Past poster artwork winners have included Chloe Jurva (2019) and Roman Padar and Heidi Bacho (2022). The chili cook-off did not occur in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

To get started on her design, Dunn, junior, used clip art that she liked as a base and then added her own touch. The background image provides an old-West feel with a yellowed vellum-type paper appearance. An image of rope intertwined with the poster completes the look.

“She asked us to do kind of a Western (theme) and then I had her help fitting them together,” Dunn said. “The background color and the shape were separate, so I had to put the images together.”

The characters include a mustachioed chili wearing a chef’s hat along with a smiling and waving saguaro cactus sporting a cowboy hat. Dunn even added a sheriff’s badge to the prickly pardner. 

Kvidt, junior, discovered a font that not only fits in with the theme but can be easily read by those passing by. Organizers see the lettering as an extra important element in the designs.

“The font was a great choice because not only is it kind of a Western (theme) but it stands out a little from a distance,” Rueben said. “My big thing with the posters — and I told them at the time when I came in and spoke — is that when people see these in like a front window of a business, you’ve got to be able to see it from like 10 feet away to understand what it is.

“The ones we eliminated early had way too much font or too little (typeface) and the characters didn’t grab our eye,” he added.

Along with receiving a little publicity for the winning poster entry, the girls extended an invitation by Rueben to attend the chili cook-off with no admission fee. Kvidt has gone before — her dad, Josh, has been a participant in the past — while Dunn would be going for the first time.

“We really appreciate you guys doing this because it’s neat that local kids get to do it and I’m really proud of it,” Rueben said to the two teens, who met with him Tuesday at the police station.

Rueben said he often brags about the poster designs at police chief conferences.

“It’s getting local people to help and our chili cook-off is a great testament to that because we raise about $15,000, $16,000 every time,” he said. “We give a lot of good money to a really good veterans charity.”

For the second straight year, the fundraiser will benefit the 4 Spirits Distillery Veterans Scholarship Fund.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online. The cost is $10 for ages 12 and older and $5 for those under 12.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.