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AUBURN — The end of the winter season often has many feeling dreary and shut in without much to do. But through the efforts of IGNITE, a group of young professional within a program of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce, citizens had a chance Friday to get out and discover some cold-weather fun.

In its sixth year, IGNITE the Winter has steadily grown with families finding something to suit the tastes of every member through music, food and refreshments and entertainment of all kinds.

"It's really something to look forward to," said Jenna Miller, who attended the festivities with her two daughters, Emily and Savannah. "This time of year is such a hard time for us all. We are sick of the cold and the kids are getting bored. It's something like this that we really need to get some of that energy used up. And it seems like each year I learn about a new restaurant or other business that I never knew was local. What a great way to being it all together."

For the cost of a dollar many sampled chili and chowder prepared by area restaurants who vied for the grand prize of cash along with the rights to the title of best of the region in the annual cook-off.

Music, games and activities for the children such as free face painting, character drawings, child safe ID cards from the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office were among the many festivities held in the warmth of the Genesee Mall.

"The chili and the live music are absolutely perfect," Sean Anderson said while taste-testing the many samples of chili. "To be honest I'm going to have to go back and try a few of them a second time before I can truly make my choice for favorite."

The IGNITE program is open to local business owners and offers a chance to connect with like-minded individuals who all share the common goal of making dining and or shopping in Cayuga County an enjoyable experience.

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