Annual chili cook-off brings in $17,000 for Quitman Pilot Club


A packed house attended the Quitman Pilot Club’s 2020 Chili Cook-Off held Friday evening, Jan. 31 at the Carroll Green Civic Center in Quitman.

This event is known for a fun time, but it’s also a main fundraiser the Pilots use to fund their service projects. This year it raised just over $17,000 thanks to the wonderful local support.

Some 23 chili chefs fed the crowds their best chili. Chili judges Lynn McNeal, Clint Barrett and Jimmy Rogers had the difficult task of picking the best of the best in a blind taste test.  The trophy winners were First Place, Angela Albers for DA Campaign; Second Place, Speakeasy Coffeehouse; and Third Place, Turner Land Management.  

While the chili is the star of the show, participants also vie for two other main awards: Peoples Choice and Best Showmanship. The People’s Choice trophies are earned by tips that double as donations to the fundraiser. The winners were first place, Jr. Douglas for County Commissioner Campaign; second place, Quitman Kiwanis Club; and third place Brad McCampbell for Judge Campaign.

Best Overall Showmanship trophies are earned by booth decorations and liveliness. The judges were Cindy Robinson, Latisha Barrett and Brenna McNeal. Trophy winners were first place, Speakeasy Coffeehouse; second place, Quitman Kiwanis; and third place, Brad McCampbell for Judge Campaign.  

The 2019 Grand Marshal selected for his fantastic past support of the Pilot Club and his dedication to the community was Russell Acker.

In presenting his award, Pilot Club President Paige Eaton said, “Russell Acker has been a long-time friend of Pilots. For many years he’s donated his time and auctioneer’s talent to raise thousands of dollars for our works. We are extremely grateful to him.”

Acker had the privilege of giving his own award to one deserving booth. He selected Sophie & Rose.

A big part of the evening was the dessert auction, held by Patricia Hightower and Wood County Precinct 4 Commissioner and Auctioneer Russell Acker.

With Acker working the crowd, there was some spirited bidding by attendees on some decadent sweets. Adding to the evening, Dale “The C” Cummings provided the musical entertainment, and he had the crowd dancing and singing along. The evening would not have been complete without the Quitman Anchor Club teen service group working hard behind the scenes to help the event run smoothly.

About the event, Chairwoman Fonda McBride said, “What a night! The community really came out in support of Pilots and they were extremely generous with their pocketbooks. We owe profound thanks to our sponsors, the chili cooks, those that donated items, and to all those that came out to sample some chili. The money raised will be used well. We met our fundraiser goal, and then some! And, it was fun. Thank you!”

All funds will support the non-profit and all-volunteer Quitman Pilot Club’s mission of providing education for the prevention of traumatic brain injury and offering services to those suffering from brain-related disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and autism. Bicycle Safety, Project LifeSaver and Special Olympics are a few of those efforts so important to the health, safety and quality of life for our community members.