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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Do You Have Reading’s Best Chili? There’s One Way to Know

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

Time's flying! That's par for the course for months nine through twelve, as I said back in September (September 6, to be exact). The bending of my perception of time has to do with so many things. Most of September was warm. Does that qualify it as extended summer? Then there were myriad fall-themed and harvest-themed fairs and events around the area to keep me busy. They were followed by falling leaves, falling snowflakes, falling temperatures. There was yard work to do (and still be done, yikes!), winterizing the house, changing over my clothes, getting my snow tires on my car, what has become the annual October ritual of a power outage to contend with, Christmas gifts to make or at least contemplate, and phew! I’m into November.

One thing that has been on my mind for a good chunk of this fall is the idea of community building. The seed of this was planted when I attend the VPR Community Forum on October 2, and I, along with the other forum members, did a visioning session on what we hoped Vermont would look like in 2040, or when a child born today is 21 or 22 years old.

A lot of the answers from the eight or so groups of three or four people had to do with economic security, the ability to live the Vermont life they wanted, and to ensure small towns, the true essence of our state, survive.

In my head, I’ve rattled off two dozen things that could be done in Reading to keep us vibrant and vital. The one that bubbles to the top is, not surprisingly, building a sense of community around our little town.

Many organizations and events build community. Yesterday’s Fright Night fun, this month’s Pie Sale and Chili Cook-off (more about those below), and events happening in December. Efforts to help older residents age in place, groups like WRAP and RATS, the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf, the Reading Historical Society, the Reading Recreation Commission, and the library all provide events and services that help build a stronger sense of community and, by extension, a stronger small town.

One group, in particular, has a dual purpose. Outwardly, the events they put on, like the Leaf Peeper Breakfast, the Pie Sale, and the Chili Cook-Off, bring people together over flaky crusts and sweet fillings, friendly competition over savory stews, and conversation over coffee, pancakes, and eggs. That group, of course, is the Reading PTO, and its actual purpose is to raise funds for events for the kids in the Reading Elementary School. The fact that these events also build community is a most welcome bonus.

The funds raised by the PTO pay for school buses for field trips, pay for swim lessons for every child in the school and defray the cost of events like ski runners so that kids can hit the slopes in the winter.

The role of chair of the Reading PTO is that of party and event planner to help raise the needed funds. There are other roles and responsibilities of course. The chair will lead meetings, set agendas, and help keep the PTO moving in the right direction.

Darci Blanchard is the temporary chair. The PTO is looking for a new chair. This person will have ample support from Darci—she will still be a member of the PTO—as well as Wade Mullins and Janet Malcolm.

For more information about how you can put your party-planning, fund-raising, and community-building skills to use with your dedicated PTO team with you at the helm, contact Darci at

Now, about those PTO events I’ve alluded to. On Saturday, November 17, the PTO will be hosting the Annual Pie Sale from 8am to 11am at Town Hall. Pies are $12 or two for $20. The PTO has the pie bakers all lined up. Smartly, they didn’t invite me. Easy as Pie? I still don’t understand what that means.

Hot on the heels of the Pie Sale—as in directly after—is the 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off. That happens from 11am to 1pm at Town Hall. The PTO is looking for folks to help out with the Chili Cook-Off in two ways. The first is for people to enter their chili into the competition. The second is to put your skills as tastemaker to the test and help choose Reading’s best chili. The event is $5 for judges, which, of course, goes towards funding the PTO’s support of our children in the elementary school. Eat enough chili, and your $5 also pays for lunch. Your participation, which is priceless, goes towards funding Reading’s community coffers. It’s a win-win all around.

Give a hill of beans—or at least a crockpot full—and join the PTO and your townsfolk in what will undoubtedly be a fun event. More details can be found in the November Informer. See you there?

Don’t forget that taxes are due on November 5, by 5pm. Postmarks are not accepted. Also, the very next day don’t forget to vote. Polls are open from 7am to 7pm.

Happy birthday to Jessica Hathorn (November 3).

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

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