Topanga Swap Meet and Chili Cookoff

Since the Woolsey Fire and evacuations in November happened the weekend of the Topanga Community Center’s annual Swap Meet and Chili Cookoff, the locals were crying for a raincheck. They not only got rain, they got the Swap Meet, fortunately not on the same day.

A Swap Meet evokes the image of garage sales, and while there is that, there were a few real gems, original pieces that stood amid the booths filled with tempting finds of “other people’s stuff.”

Tina Hatchel had a booth hanging with wonderfully whimsical seashell windchimes, bedecked with bits of seaweed and anchored by driftwood ($25 -$100). Each windchime was truly one of a kind and made gentle, melodic sounds as the breezes blew, evoking nautical dreams and mermaid fantasies.

Another gentleman (Brian?) had trays of antique jewelry which were interesting but the most bewitching of all were his handmade wands and walking sticks. Each was topped with a large crystal and set with gemstones along and around the wood. In every little notch and nook, a specially cut gemstone was epoxied into a perfect fit. Something you would expect to see Merlin or Gandolf wielding on a hike up to Eagle Rock. A “labor of love” he said as he described the lengthy process of finding the stick, sanding it, smoothing it, cutting each stone to fit as he worked his magic.

Sixteen-year-old Simone Traband’s watercolor prints were outstanding, with a galactic style. She must be a star child. One was an anatomical human heart full of sheet music and set against a backdrop of deep space and stars.

Another was a portrait of a girl with wide, questioning eyes, whose face shone galaxies and constellations with hues that darkened like a sunset. To see her work, visit and search: “LuneArtsy.”


On stage, local performers Alan Boivin, Flat Bed Vinyl, Highway 27 Blues Band, and Uncle Albert took turns entertaining the shoppers, eaters, hagglers, and minglers, while the Ukulele Revival, bedecked in Santa hats welcomed the spirit of the season.

Tyler Traband displays his honorable mention chili.

The highlights, of course, were the Chili and Pie contests. Chili champions were: Kady Watson, First Place for Vegan Chili; Dan Hiland, First Place for Traditional Chili; Trevor Bourget took Second Place in the Traditional category; and Tyler Traband walked off with an Honorable Mention in the same category.

In the Pie contest, Lauren Richwine took First Place with her Dream Cream Pie. Elaina Leibee’s Mixed Berry Pie won Second Place. The Youth Winner and Best Crust for Cherry Pie went to Sophie Pfaff, with Lauren Ivester taking an Honorable Mention for her Mixed Berry Cheesecake Crumble. If you missed the good ol’ TCC Swap Meet and Chili Cook off this year, there will be another next year, time enough to get that chili or pie recipe tested and perfected with an eye to the winner’s circle.

Future pie contest winner, Paige Rockwell.

Thanks to the TCC and its volunteers for making good on that rain check and bringing good cheer after a difficult November.

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