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Salute Week:  Event Celebrates Military with Chili, Barbecue, Family Fun

By Michele Vowell, Ft. Campbell Courier assistant editor

Just a few miles north of Fort Campbell, the city of Hopkinsville will celebrate the military with a festive week of activities for service members and their Families.

Christian County Salutes Fort Campbell Week kicks off Monday in downtown Hopkinsville near Founders Square with free food, fun and festivities.

“For more than 20 years Salute Week has been our community’s signature celebration for the military men and women at Fort Campbell and in our community; we recognize that we owe it to the Families that sacrifice so much,” said Katie Lopez, director of military and governmental affairs at the Christian County Chamber of Commerce. “This special week for our community is a time for us to embrace Fort Campbell and to remind Soldiers and their Families that we appreciate their service and sacrifice.”

Those interested in architecture and good food may want to attend the Spouses Luncheon and Tour of Homes Aug. 27. The event is open to spouses at Fort Campbell and surrounding communities. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the Hampton Inn for breakfast. At least 10 homes in Christian County will be a part of the tour. A lunch will then be served at 11:30 a.m. at Oakland Manor. Cost is $10 for civilians, but is free to the military or their Family.

“It’s [a tour of] various homes throughout Hopkinsville and Christian County,” Lopez said. “Just some great ways to showcase our community and some of the fabulous things we have to offer.”

Dressed in business or cocktail attire, military and civilians will mingle at the Military Affairs Committee Gala Aug. 28 at the Hopkinsville Golf and Country Club. Featuring a band and dessert bar, the Gala kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Soldiers and their spouses may attend for free, but civilians, retirees and Eagle Ambassadors will be charged between $15 and $25 per person.

Several pre-Gala parties will kick off the evening at 5:30 p.m. for civilians and 6 p.m. for military. Reservations are due by Friday. When reservations are received, individuals will be assigned to a pre-Gala party location.

The highlight of the week is Salute Saturday on Aug. 29. The day features Family-friendly games, activities and information booths.

The day kicks off with a Farmer’s Market at 7 a.m. with a variety of homegrown goods for sale.

From noon until 6 p.m., the Ag District will include static displays of various tractors, an FFA photo booth as well as an interactive Cooperative Extension Booth with simulated cow milking and various agricultural demos throughout the day. There will also be a corn truck on-site from Christian Way Farm for children to play in one of the region’s most highly-produced items.

Guests may enjoy watching some classic cartoons as they stretch their legs at the historic Alhambra Theater from 1 until 5 p.m. compliments of the Pennyroyal Arts Council. No tickets required.

Also from 1 until 5 p.m., the Art District will have artist exhibits, as well as art activities for children, like clay and chalk art.  

The Military Appreciation Tent will be active and open from 2 until 8 p.m. for Soldiers and Family members.

Visitors may check out vintage automobiles at the Pennyrile Classic Car Club cruise-in from 2 until 7 p.m. During that same time, the Kids Zone will offer children’s activities including bounce houses and face painting. The Family Zone, will contain fun for children and adults. Organizations will have booths set up with interactive games free to participants.

Guests may take a stroll through history as Alissa Keller, director of the Historic Museums of Hopkinsville, guides walks through time exploring the history that lies within the downtown area. Participants will meet outside the Alhambra Theater at either 2:30 or 4:30 p.m.

Two cooking competitions, open to civilians and the military, will take center stage during Salute Saturday.

The second annual Salute Series Christian County Grillmasters Challenge will be held for the first time as part of Salute Saturday, Lopez said.

“This is for amateurs, as well as professionals, that want to come out and win some cash prizes as well as bragging rights,” she said.

Teams of up to five individuals will be cooking chicken; spare, St. Louis cut or baby back ribs; and a Boston butt, picnic or whole shoulder for a panel of judges. The top three in each category will win cash prizes. The best overall prize is $500.

Cooking starts around 7 p.m. Aug. 28 and continues throughout the night at the corner of Fourth Street and Riverfront Drive. Judging will begin at 1 p.m. Aug. 29.

“We would love to see our Grillmasters Challenge become a sanctioned event in the future, so we’re really working toward that,” Lopez said.

Grillmasters Challenge entry cost is $100 per team. Teams must supply their meats, ingredients, utensils and tents. More details on the competition rules are available on the entry forms provided by the Christian County Chamber of Commerce. Entries are due Aug. 27.

Although sampling of the teams’ entries will not be permitted during or after the competition, Lopez said a vendor will be on-site for patrons to buy barbecue.

A grand prize of $1,000 is up for grabs at the Salute Saturday Chili Cook-off. The contest kicks off at 9 a.m. Aug. 29 with the arrival and setup of the teams along the corner of Fifth Street and Riverfront Drive. Teams comprised of a maximum of six individuals must cook a minimum of five gallons of chili on-site. The deadline to register a team is Monday. Cost is $85 for civilian teams and free to military teams.

Like the Grillmasters competition, chili teams provide their own tables for serving the chili and food preparation, chairs, ingredients for chili, all cooking utensils, portable stove or cooking source and wash pans. Teams must also decorate their booth with a military or patriotic theme.

Samples of chili will be turned into judges between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Winners will be announced at 7:15 p.m.

In addition to the grand prize and other prizes, military teams are eligible for the Brigade Challenge to win $1,000 to fund organization days or other unit activities, Lopez said.

“They can qualify for any of the prizes. This is just a special category for them just to encourage participation and kind of give back to their unit,” she said.

Starting at 4 p.m., as the 101st Airborne Division Band plays on stage, civilians may sample the different teams’ chili for $1 using a cup purchased from the Military Affairs Committee. Soldiers and Families may sample chili entries for free.

 To get cooking contest entry forms, visit To make reservations for the Spouses Luncheon or MAC Gala and for additional information about Salute Week events, call the Christian County Chamber of Commerce at 270-885-9096 or email Lopez at

“We encourage people to participate and sign up a team. We still have plenty of space left. It’s not too late,” Lopez said. “We would love to have our teams participate and see people get together with a group of friends, or their organization or their church.”

Salute Saturday ends with a bang as a fireworks display launches at 8 p.m.

Parking will be available all day at the Christian County public library, justice center and municipal center.

Lopez extends an invitation to Soldiers and Families of Fort Campbell and the surrounding communities for Salute Week events.

“We’ve expanded it …,” she said. “It’s really going to be a great Family event.”

Salute Week Schedule of Events

Spouses Luncheon Tour of Homes

9 a.m. Aug. 27 Breakfast at Hampton Inn, Hopkinsville
9:30 a.m. Tour of Homes starts
11:30 a.m. Luncheon at Oakland Manor, Hopkinsville
Civilians – $10; military – free

Military Affairs Committee Gala

7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Hopkinsville Golf and Country Club. Dress is business/cocktail attire. Pre-Gala parties begin at 5:30 p.m. for civilian attendees, 6 p.m. for military. RSVP by Friday.

Grillmasters Challenge

6 p.m. Aug. 28 until 1 p.m. Aug. 29 in downtown Hopkinsville.

Salute Saturday

7 a.m. -1 p.m. Farmer’s Market
Noon-6 p.m. Ag District open
1 p.m. Judging starts for Grillmasters Challenge
1-5 p.m. Movie at Alhambra Theater; Art District open
2-7 p.m. Pennyrile Classic Car Club Cruise-in, Kid Zone and Family Zone open
2-8 p.m. Military VIP tent open
2:30 p.m. Historic Walking Tour departs from Alhambra
4 p.m. Chili sampling begins; Grillmasters Challenge winners announced.
4-7 p.m. 101st Airborne Band on stage
4:30 p.m. Historic Walking Tour departs from Alhambra Theater.
7:15 p.m. Chili winners announced
8 p.m. Fireworks display.

For more information, call 270-885-9096.