Roman Padar and Heidi Bacho pose with the 2022 Public Safety Chili Cook Off poster that they both had a hand in designing. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The posters are now showing up all around town — the big, red chili with “2022” in white lettering, the use of an artistic font using a red, white and blue color scheme, logos of the participating law enforcement agencies situated toward the bottom and artwork from the organization that will be on the receiving end of fundraising.

Those are art elements featured in the Public Safety Chili Cook Off’s 2022 promotional poster. But organizers didn’t pay a professional artist to come up with an eye-catching design. Instead, a pair of Philomath High School students contributed to the product through their participation in a technology education class taught by Nicole Stueve.

“We could’ve picked either one but we liked stuff from both posters,” Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said. “So we asked Nicole Stueve if she wouldn’t mind combining the two posters and she came up with that … we just melded them together. I think it’s outstanding, it’s an amazing poster.”

Senior Roman Padar and sophomore Heidi Bacho both contributed to the poster, which promotes the popular chili cook-off scheduled for Sept. 11 at the Yew Wood Corral at the rodeo grounds. Padar and Bacho designed their posters in a desktop publishing class in the high school’s computer lab.

“We got to see some of the previous posters and I drew inspiration from that and went with a western theme,” Padar said.

Bacho indicated that the design process was a lot of trial and error just moving art elements around on the computer screen.

“At first, I was just trying to find the logo,” Bacho laughed, “and then I just threw a pepper up there and decided to work around it. And obviously there were some basics that we had to work through — adding specific badges and the details.”

The students were asked to try to incorporate some sort of military or American-themed artwork into the design. That’s because the chili cook-off’s designated fundraising recipient this year will be 4 Spirits Distillery, which awards thousands of dollars in veterans’ scholarships.

The cook-off also falls this year on Sept. 11, which is a date that will always be remembered in American history.

Rueben said 51 people voted on the designs, those involved with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Foundation, the Philomath Police Foundation, several city employees and fire department personnel.

Bacho likes how the poster designs were combined.

“I think my poster looks a little bit messy and I think the merging of the two is a really good idea,” she said. “This is different from drawing, obviously, but it was fun in the moment and I had friends to do it with.”

Padar said favors the merged look as well.

“I like that background with the front underneath,” he said.

The law enforcement agencies first looked to the PHS class to help with the poster in 2019 when then-sophomore Chloe Jurva had the winning design.

“We used to have to pay a company to do the poster every year — the first 18 years — and then we came up with the idea of including the high school to do it,” Rueben said.

The chili cook-off had been held for years at the Benton County Fairgrounds before moving to Philomath in 2019. The chili cook-off did not occur in 2018 as the event went through a reorganization phase and then after the 2019 event, was not staged in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.

One of the thoughts behind including the high school was to seek more involvement from the community.

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

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.