CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The more than 80-degree heat didn't prevent people from turning out in droves Saturday for some of FestivALL's opening-weekend events. People milled around along Capitol Street, up and down Kanawha Boulevard and across the West Side to take part in the staples of the weeklong festival.
Even zombies made an appearance Saturday. Bailey Henderson, 11, picked them as the theme of her booth at the Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-Off.
To accompany the green chili being served, she had concocted "zombie brains" -- a mixture of cherry Jell-O and sour gummy worms. She'd donned white face paint and a tattered black dress for the occasion and ran fake blood through her blonde hair.
"I like scary stuff," Henderson said. She said she hadn't seen many frightening themes at other stands, and she wanted to make the booth "pretty unique."
As passers-by strolled Kanawha Boulevard, Henderson hollered to them, asking if they wanted to try the chili.
Tara Novick and Tony Pierro, South Charleston residents who were running the booth, said their chili included cumin, ground chicken, salsa verde and lime. This was their second go at the cook-off.
"We didn't place last year," Novick said, "but we had a lot of fun."
Kevin Carr of Charleston and his daughters stood in front of the booth, finishing samples of red chili from a different stand.
But when Sara Carr, 12, went to grab her tasting cup from her dad, it was already empty.
"I wouldn't say I ate it," the girls' father said with a smile. "I can't account for it."
As his daughters stepped up to the zombie booth to grab their cups of white chili, Carr warned that the girls are tough critics.
Lindsay Carr, 9, returned with a gummy brain in one hand and chili in the other. She decided she liked the chili because of the bites of chicken scattered through it.
And when Sara put the spoonful of chili in her mouth, her eyes widened, and she nodded her head. She said she normally prefers red chili, but she enjoyed this, too.
"This is, like, the perfect temperature and spice," she said.
'That hill is unbelievable'
John and Sallie Usher were driving back to Ohio from a beach vacation in South Carolina when they heard about FestivALL's five-mile race on the radio.
They were about an hour outside Charleston and decided the city - and the race - would be a good stopping point on their trip.
The couple and their 11-year-old son checked into the Marriott on Friday and bought running shoes for John.
Saturday morning, they completed the Charleston Area Medical Center "Run For Your Life" Five Mile Race.
Sallie finished in about 43 minutes, and John and their son finished in about an hour.
The thing that stuck out most to Sallie about the course, which begins at Haddad Riverfront Park and follows Court Street, was the steep climb up to Spring Hill Cemetery.
"That hill is unbelievable," she said.
The Ushers joined about 160 other runners, said Gail Pitchford, president of the CAMC Foundation.
Pitchford said the hill is the only one in the race, and it's about a mile and a quarter into the course. The rest of the run is downhill.
"When you get to the top," she said, "it's a good sense of accomplishment."
Wiener dogs gone wild
Not only did Zippy, a 12-year-old wiener dog, cross the finish line first in the Senior Division category of Saturday's West Side Wiener Dog Race, none of his competitors made it even halfway down the track. The appropriately named dachshund from Marion County entered the sixth annual race for the first time, said his owner, Yvonne Haldeman Moyer.
"He's always been fast," Moyer said, "that's how he got his name."
Held at Stonewall Jackson Middle School on Charleston's West Side, wiener dogs competed in a costume contest and a fetch competition while their owners eagerly cheered them on.
Zippy was dressed as a hot dog to "go with the obvious costume," Moyer said. Other dogs donned sunglasses, miniature surfboards, crowns and fairy wings. Other dogs dressed as a firefighter, a baseball player and a shark. Harley-Davidson, West Virginia University and the Olympics were other themes the wiener dogs wore during the event.