Over 300 chili fans attended the Quitman Pilot Club’s 2018 Chili Cook-Off held Friday evening, Jan. 26 at the Carroll Green Civic Center in Quitman.
A successful social activity, the cook-off is also one of the main fundraisers the Pilots use to fund service projects. There were 20 chili chefs there to feed the crowds steaming bowls of traditional, and some not so traditional, chili. Event Chairman Paige Eaton said, “Chili Judges Jack Newman, Chuck Roy and Garry Schnabel had the difficult task of picking the best of the best in a blind taste test.”
Trophy winners were, first place, Wood County Electric Cooperative; second place, Quitman Animal Clinic and third place, Land’s End Fire Volunteer Fire Department.
While the chili is the center of attention, participants also vie for two other main awards. Best Overall Showmanship, earned by booth decorations and liveliness, was judged by Tammy Legenza, Vicky Selman and Kathy Bargas. And People’s Choice is earned by tips that double as donations to the fundraiser.
Trophy winners for Best Showmanship were first place, Quitman Animal Clinic; second place, Hebron Law and third place, Winnsboro Center for the Arts. Trophy winners for Peoples’ Choice were first place, The Links at Lands End; second place, Quitman Kiwanis and third place, Forever Young Activity Center.
Another highly-coveted award is given annually by the Chili Cook-Off Grand Marshal. The 2018 Grand Marshal, selected for her dedication to the community through her volunteerism, was Pam Riley, chairman of the board of the Quitman Arboretum. Riley bestowed her award on Harris Line Service’s Top Dawg Chili Crew, saying, “They were just so nice and friendly. It just felt right!”
A major component of the evening was a dessert auction, held by Patricia Hightower and Wood County Pct. 4 Commissioner and Auctioneer Russell Acker. There was some spirited bidding by attendees on some luscious looking desserts. Adding to the evening, Dale “The C” Cummings provided musical entertainment to which the crowd danced and sang along. The teenage service group, Quitman Anchor Club, worked behind-the-scenes to help the Pilots with the event.
Eaton said, “The community always enjoys and supports this event and this year they did that in spades! We owe deep gratitude to our sponsors, the chili cooks, and all those that came out to sample some chili. The money raised will be used well. We offer our profound thanks to all for helping us reach our goal, and for making the event a memorable and fun time.”
All funds raised at the event will support the nonprofit and all-volunteer Quitman Pilot Club with their mission of providing education for prevention of traumatic brain injury, as well as providing services to those suffering from brain-related disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and autism. Bicycle safety, Project LifeSaver and Special Olympics are just a few of those efforts.