Thanks in part to sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, the Fall Festival of the Arts and Crafts attracted large crowds this past weekend.

Sponsored by Downtown Washington Inc., the festival featured 65 crafters — the most ever for the event — along with live music, a large food court and Strassenfest to celebrate to the city’s German heritage.

“We had a phenomenal weekend with great crowds, beautiful weather and very happy vendors and downtown merchants,” said Bridgette Epple, executive director.

“The weekend started off strong with a very successful chili cook-off Friday night and that just continued into Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

The cook-off, although down slightly in the number of teams participating, sold close to 1,400 chili mugs. Epple said the crowd came early and eager chili eaters were lined up Elm Street waiting to enter the cook-off.

“The cook-off is always a lot of fun and the teams did a great job both with their chili and decorating their booths and dressing up,” Epple said.

Best chili honors went to the Washington Jaycees, who finished first. The Chamber of Commerce came in second and Citizens Bank finished third.

For best booth, Radio-Comm won first, Bank of Frank County was second and Sheltered Workshop was third.

The People’s Choice winner was still being tabulated at press time. Guests could vote for their favorite chili by placing tips at each team’s booth. All of the tip money will be donated to the Franklin County Area United Way, which also sold hot dogs and chips for the non-chili eaters.

Epple said the crowds for the Fall Festival Saturday and Sunday were strong and steady.

“Saturday is typically our biggest day and that was true again, but we were happy with the turnout both days,” she said. “We got a lot of positive feedback from the vendors who sold a lot and our downtown merchants also saw a lot of foot traffic in their stores which is wonderful. One merchant told me Saturday was her biggest day since opening.”

Epple estimates about 12,000 people turned out over the three days.

“We couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out and we couldn’t have asked for better weather,” she said. “We also want to thank the city and all of our volunteers who help put this on, especially the Jaycees BB Gun team which took care of all the cleanup.”

Epple said volunteers are always needed to work downtown events and there are three slots open on the Fall Fest committee for anyone interested in sharing their talents.