The "Go Go Girls" from the Texas County Memorial Hospital Home Health Department were one of 14 team competing in the annual Chili Cook Off. Seated is Christie Koch. Standing are, from left: Rena Roberts, Rae Ann Cooper, Ashley Sullins and Sheena Postlewait.

An annual event pitting chili cooking teams against other raised $46,875 for Texas County Memorial Hospital’s Hospice of Care.

Fourteen teams ranging from disco to Duck Dynasty served up their best meat and bean, red or white, hot or mild chili recipes inside the community building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. Donations came in the form of sponsorships by area businesses for chili teams, corporate and entertainment sponsorships, cash donations and donations of items for the auctions. Chili teams also raised money prior to the event and at the event. In addition to musical entertainment, a live auction, many silent auctions and a cakewalk also provided entertainment.

“Once again we received tremendous support from area businesses and individuals in donating to this important community cause,” said Jay Gentry, director of the Healthcare Foundation

A festive atmosphere filled the fairgrounds on Saturday as attendees poured in to taste chili. In addition to pots of “mild” and “hot” chili, crackers, Fritos, cheese, onions and sour cream were served up as accompaniments to the chili. Strings of beads, whistles, and candy were also handed out by the teams hoping to entice the those tasting the chili to vote for them.

“The Chili Cook Off is truly an event the whole family can enjoy,” Courtney Owens, Kids were treated to an inflatable bounce house and sweet treats being sold or given away at cook off booths. The Houston Sorosis Club also provided face painting for the young and young at heart.

Homemade cakes were sweet treats given away at the Hospice of Care Pie and Cake booth, which featured a cakewalk for a dollar. The Hospice of Care staff also held silent auctions for homemade pies and other treats.

Adults were drawn to silent auctions featuring baskets of seasonal decorations, pet supplies and beauty products; artwork by local artists and tickets and gift certificates to various places in the area. Teams held raffles or silent auctions for handmade items, gift baskets, Mizzou gear and a wooden duck decoy signed by Si Robertson.

A chili dog eating contest featured chili cook off team members, local business owners and a few kids. Steve Zweifel, an attendee at the cook off, won the contest.

The Healthcare Foundation raffled a rifle as a way to raise money prior to and during the event. Glen Buckner of Houston won the rifle.

A Bad Boy brand zero turn radius mower sponsored by S&H Farm Supply was also raffled by Hospice of Care and the chili cook off teams. Lorraine Loy of Licking was the winner of the mower.

Three chili judges representing sponsors and supporters of the event were Earleen Holder from Progressive Ozark Bank in Houston, Dr. Joshua Wolfe of the TCMH Family Clinic in Licking and Jan Watson of Janstiques and VIP Properties in Houston. Prizes were given to the chili teams who were competing in several different categories.

“Judge’s Choice” and first place went to “Go Go Girls” sponsored by Dr. Lynn Hauenstein. The cook off judges awarded second place to “Power Chili” from Intercounty Electric Cooperative. The third place was “Pirates of the Chili Bean” sponsored Community Bank N.A.

“Chili with the Most Kick” prize went to Big Country 99ers Brewhahahahaha.

First place in the “best booth” decorating category went for the second year in a row to Community Bank N.A. for “Pirates of the Chili Bean” –– a booth and costumes with pirate theme. The “Chili Commanders” booth by the TCMH emergency medical services team, won second place for decorations. Also with a “Duck Dynasty” theme, the Houston School administrators won third place with their “Chili with Quackers” booth.

The “Chili Commanders” won first place in the people’s choice category followed by “Heavenly Chili” by Raymondville United Methodist Church in second place and “Packing Heat” from the Houston Police Department in third place.

TCMH employees in attendance were given the opportunity to vote for the “TCMH Choice Chili.” The TCMH medical surgical department “Pink Ladies” won the hospital employee award.

The chili cooking teams raised $15,177. Six teams raised over $1,000 apiece.

Houston Walmart Supercenter “Chili Bandits” won first in “Team Fundraising” with $2,826; followed by “Pirates of the Chili Bean” with $2,538; and the “Go Go Girls” for raising $1,722.

Prior to the live auction portion of the event, Dr. Gretchen Price, the Hospice of Care medical staff director, spoke about the local hospice service.

“Your support of Hospice of Care makes the difference in the care we are able to provide to area patients,” Price said. “Our staff has been known to help patients with cattle they have on their farm or they will just sit with patient and watch a St. Louis Cardinal’s ballgame so the patient doesn’t have to be alone,” she said.

“Your donations make a big difference,” Price said, “And we are grateful.”

Families that were in Hospice of Care service in 2013 and previous years were present at the Cook Off. Some families also made donations to the Healthcare Foundation to benefit Hospice of Care at the Chili Cook Off.

Harold Mitchell made a pie safe and donated it in memory of his mother, Caroline Mitchell, a patient of Hospice of Care. Deborah Kell donated a framed duck print in memory of her late husband, Jim Kell.

After Saturday’s event, the cook off raised $34,022 in cash donations and $12,853 of in-kind donations. All the proceeds raised by the Chili Cook Off support Hospice of Care and remain in Texas County to benefit area residents.

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