Chili Challenge 2011
By Candace Siposfirstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Austin and Olivia Landry booked two catering events from last year's Chili Challenge, and since then it has been a "roller coaster of catering," Olivia Landry said.
During only their second Chili Challenge, the husband-and-wife team who own Jordan Springs Market won the people's choice award for both their chili and barbecue.
At this year's event on Saturday, they hope to defend their title. But even if they don't, they'll be happy to have participated in the 15th annual Chili Challenge.
"Yes, we get exposure. Yes, it helps our business," Olivia Landry said. "But ... it really is for the charity."
Others among the 19 competitors signed up so far agree. John Fox, from Greenwood Grocery and Deli, said he doesn't necessarily get back the few hundred dollars he puts into making more than 20 gallons of chili each year, but that's not the point.
"We see a lot of our customers that are out there already -- try to generate new business at the same time," Fox said. "It's just a good event. We'd go out there even if we weren't competing in it."
Kathy Myers, the event's co-chairwoman and past president of the Winchester Exchange Club, which hosts the Chili Challenge, said the event draws in crowds of nearly 2,000. Depending heavily on the weather, proceeds have ranged anywhere from $8,000 to more than $35,000, she added.
All of that money returns to the Winchester area. This year, the proceeds will benefit the Winchester Exchange Club's Child-Parent Center, the Fremont Street and Winchester Day nurseries, the Henry and Williams Evans Home for Children Inc., and high school scholarships, to name a few.
"We do pride ourselves that 100 percent of what we raise ... goes right back into the community," Myers said.
Over the past 15 years, this event has really expanded, she noted.
"Originally, it was just chili and it was just restaurants," Myers said. "Then, it kind of morphed."
Now, there is a judge panel to choose the best chili and barbecue makers, who receive cash prizes if they're independent cooks and trophies if they're restaurant owners. There are also trophies for the winners of people's choice, best barbecue and best showmanship.
Myers said she's excited about the new and improved children's area, which fell away from the list of activities for a couple years.
"We brought it back, and this year, we just feel like we're knocking it out of the park," she said.
The Winchester Police Department's Kids and Cops Camp will be in charge of the area, which will feature a moon bounce, cornhole and other activities. Children under 12 are admitted free.
Tickets for the event are $8 in advance and $12 at the gate. It will last from noon to 6 p.m.