Many Winners at ECP’s Chili Cook-Off
It was a good night at Creekside Place on Leap Saturday. The Evansville Community Partnership held their 20th Annual The Heat Is On! Chili Cook-Off and an even dozen chili cooks made their best effort to win in one of the six categories. Entrants from around the area--some new to the event, some returning for more fun, and some veterans of many cook-offs—made their best and dressed to impress a crowd that came from as far away as Rockford for the good times and good chili.
The judging started more than an hour before the doors opened to the public and prizes were announced at the end of the night. Best No Meat prize went to Mary Mae Sergeant for her Chili Potter chili. Mary Mae is a repeat winner, having won before in 2018. Having her Dad dressed as Severus Snape certainly helped in Theme judging.
The prize for "No Sweat" Best Mild was won by Joanna Hancock for her P&J Awesome Chili. Joanna and her team are cooks at Stoughton Meadows and were excited to join the competition for the first time.
The Best Theme prize medal was taken home by Tom Calley for his Mechanic’s Chili. The Theme judges had an especially hard time this year with many creative displays. Schoolhouse Chili brought a yard bell and Evansville Community Theater had a Christmas tree and an angel in support of their coming production of It’s a Wonderful Life this December. Tom tied with the Koser Family’s Wricka Wricka Wild Remix Chili and only just lost on a tiebreaker.
Honorable Mention went to Cassie and Tom Fahey for Pig Kahuna. Their tropical spiced chili was a hit with the judges this year.
The Bev Killeen People's Choice Award for collecting the most money from the crowd went to Emily Knott and Josh Firgens for their Schoolhouse Chili. Their chili was a favorite with the judges, too taking home the Red Pepper trophy, medal, and prize money for the Grand Champion Chili.
ECP thanks go out to the judges, Travis Ardisson, Mike Hartel, Julie McLaughlin, Representative Mark Spreitzer, Shelley Meredith, and Diedre Beltran for doing the hard work of picking the winners and to the staff at Creekside Place for the beautiful venue.
Many silent auction items were sold, donated by individuals and businesses from Evansville and the surrounding area. Local sponsors make local events possible. Please see our ad in last week’s Review for a full list of our sponsors and support them in return.
For more info please contact Jim Brooks, ECP Executive Director, via phone at 608/882-0598 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legends Will Be Made at ECP's 20th Annual Chili Cook-Off
While there are many myths, legends and hard-headed opinions about the origins and traditions of Chili, there’s one thing for certain: The Heat Is On!, Evansville’s Annual Chili Cook-off is legendary for a whole lot of fun and healthy competition in the area. Now you have a chance to celebrate the 20th running of this fun competition that benefits the 4th of July fireworks.
You’ll need to bring your appetite and maybe a bit of courage to Creekside Place on February 29. It doesn’t matter if you like to burn out your taste buds on creations like “Nuclear Meltdown" or "After Burner Chili," or take a more cautious approach with a nice, quiet white chili alternative. The variety of chilis is impressive and the quality is high.
Tickets are just $15 for adults and the doors open at 6:30. Kids 10 and under enter free with adult. Patrons will enjoy sampling chili from the chili chef contestants, mixing and mingling with friends old and new, bidding at the fabulous silent auction with in-kind donations from local businesses, and a 50/50 raffle.
The Evansville Community Partnership uses the proceeds for the Fireworks over the 4th of July celebration and your support is vital to make that festival happen.
Judging for the contestants includes Best Theme for the entry that gets into the spirit of the event as well as five categories for taste, including Best Mild and Best Veggie Chili. Many of your favorite cooks will be back and there will be new cooks to tickle your taste buds, too.
Let’s take a look at a few of the Legends of Chili…
1618 - According to an old Southwestern legend the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known in the Southwest United States as "La Dama de Azul," the lady in blue. While she never left Spain herself, Sister Mary would go into trances with her body lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to the Native Americans and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries. Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly "La Dama de Azul" or "lady in blue" spoken of by Native Americans who visited the missions. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No physical evidence has been found to back-up this claim.
1731 - A group of sixteen families arrived from the Spanish Canary Islands to what is now known as the city of San Antonio, Texas. They had immigrated to Texas by order of King Philip V. of Spain. The King of Spain felt that colonization would help cement Spanish claims to the region and block France's westward expansion from Louisiana. These families founded San Antonio’s first civil government which became the first municipality in the Spanish province of Texas. According to historians, the women made a spicy “Spanish” stew that eventually became known as Chili in English after the native Chiles (peppers) that were used in the recipe. Eventually, some Spanish priests were said to be wary of the passion inspired by chile peppers, assuming they were aphrodisiacs. A few preached sermons against indulgence in a food which they said was almost as "hot as hell's brimstone" and "Soup of the Devil." The priest's warning probably contributed to the dish's popularity.
1850 - The first chili mix was said to be concocted around 1850 by Texan adventurers and cowboys as a staple for hard times when traveling to and in the California gold fields and around Texas. Needing hot grub, the trail cooks came up with a sort of stew. They pounded dried beef, fat, pepper, salt, and the chile peppers together. This amounted to "brick chili" or "chili bricks" that could be boiled in pots along the trail. Some trail cooks planted pepper seeds, oregano, and onions in mesquite patches (to protect them from foraging cattle) to use on future trail drives.
1880s-1939-San Antonio women nicknamed "Chili Queens" sold stew they called "chili" made with dried red chiles and beef from open-air stalls at the Military Plaza Mercado. They made their chili at home, loaded it onto colorful chili wagons, and transported the wagons and chili to the plaza. They build mesquite fires on the square to keep the chili warm, lighted their wagons with colored lanterns, and squatted on the ground beside the cart, dishing out chili to customers who sat on wooden stools to eat their fiery stew. In 1937 they were put out of business city health ordinances. There was such a public outcry that in 1939, Mayor Maury Maverick reinstated the chili al fresco stands. They were closed again shortly after the start of World War II.
1967 – A well known chili cook-off took place in Terlingua, Texas between a Dallas newspaper reporter and a self-proclaimed world’s best Chili cookbook author from New York. Texans were particularly upset that “the Yankee” had the nerve to use beans in his chili recipe. According to Gary Cartwright, writer for Sports Illustrated, one judge went into convulsions after taking a spoonful of chili, fell to the floor and whispered in agony that he was unable to go on. The cook-off was proclaimed a tie.
2001 – Evansville Wisconsin hosted their first annual chili cook-off, presented by the Evansville Community Partnership, Inc. and sponsored by area businesses. Their idea was to create a fun family event for the community to celebrate the end of a long winter. Local potter Matthias James created a hand-thrown, no two exactly alike, pottery chili bowl for the winner to take home. The tradition continues and grows each year as the event has become a fundraiser for the Fourth of July fireworks at Lake Leota.
2020 - Evansville Community Partnership’s 20th annual Chili Cook-off will be held on Saturday, February 23 from 6:30 until 9 p.m. at Creekside Place, 102 Maple Street in Evansville. Watch for the debut of the new Chili Pepper Trophy for the Grand Champion chili chef
See the entry ad in the Review or online at http://www.ecp-wi.org/the-heat-is-on-chili-cook-off.html so you can show off your best chili. If you’d like to help out at the event, see the Sign Up button on the Facebook page for The Heat Is On! Chili Cook-Off.
Watch for tickets at Creekside Place. More information is online at ecp-wi.org or contact Jim Brooks, ECP Executive Director, via phone at 608/882-0598 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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"Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili." - Alleged dying words of Kit Carson