The eighth annual Chili Cook Off earlier this month raised $44,250 for Hospice of Care.
Sixteen chili-cooking teams — outfitted with a team theme that ranged from football tailgating and Japanese garden to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – served up their best meat and bean, red or white, hot or mild chili recipes. The event, which included 300 people at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds, is hosted by the Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation.
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. A live auction, silent auctions, raffles and a cakewalk also provided entertainment during the day.
“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.
Attendees poured into the community building at the fairgrounds to taste chili and take part in the festivities.
Dr. Christopher Baldwin, Tracey Arwood, Dr. Diana Koenig and their clinic staff had old-fashioned Coca-Cola in bottles and Crackerjacks to sell as part of their St. Louis Cardinals themed booth. Houston High School Future Business Leaders of America had a “Technolochili” booth complete with an interactive display and special chili flavorings invented by the FBLA group.
Fritos, cheese, onions, sour cream and milk were served up as accompaniments to the chili, and a few competitors served up “mild” and “hot” pots of chili.
Homemade cakes and cookies were given away at the Hospice of Care cakewalk booth. For a dollar, the cakewalks were enjoyed by young and old alike. The Hospice of Care staff also held silent auctions for homemade cakes and other treats.
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. The silent auction items were donated to Hospice of Care for the event.
The individual teams held raffles and silent auctions for their teams, too.
A chili dog eating contest featured chili cook off team members, local business owners and a few hospital physicians. Chris Weaver of Houston and the Roadkill Warriors cook off team won the contest.
The Healthcare Foundation held two raffles to raise money prior to and during the event. Eric Wells of Houston won the rifle. Shannon Smith of Licking won the pop up camper.
Three chili judges representing sponsors and supporters of the event were Earleen Holder from Progressive Ozark Bank in Houston, Jay Loveland from Wehr Motors of Mountain Grove and Justin Shelby of State Farm Insurance in Houston. Prizes were given to the chili teams who were competing in several different categories.
“Judge’s choice” and first place went to “Landmark Tailgaters” for their mild, white chili. The cook off judges awarded second place to “Power Chili” Intercounty Electric Cooperative also for their mild chili. The third place “Judge’s Choice” went to “Old Country Doc” sponsored Mercy Clinic of Houston.
“Chili with the Most Kick” prize also went to “Big Country 99ers Brewhahahahaha,” which entered a “hot” and a “mild” chili in the contest.
First place in the “best booth” decorating category for the third year in a row went to Community Bank N.A. for “Miso Spicy” –– a booth and costumes with a Japanese garden theme. Decked out in pink camouflage, the TCMH Medical Surgical department won second place with their “Pink Ladies” booth. The “TCMH Speculators”— Baldwin, Arwood, Koenig and their staff –– won third place for their baseball concessions theme.
“FBLA Technolochili ” won first place in the people’s choice category followed by “Road Kill Warriors: TCMH EMS” in second place and “TCMH Speculators” in third place.
TCMH employees in attendance were given the opportunity to vote for the “TCMH choice.” The EMS team won for the fifth time in eight years of competition.
The teams contributed $16,574 of the funds raised. Eight teams raised more than $1,000 apiece. TCMH EMS “Road Kill Warriors” won the fundraising competition with $2,735, followed by “Chili That’s Out of This World” with $2,026. Third place went to “TMNT—TCMH Home Health of the Ozarks” for raising $1,635.
Brandon Beck, master of ceremonies and meteorologist at KY3 television station in Springfield, applauded the cause and explained that his 84-year old grandmother died under hospice care earlier in the year.
“I had never experienced hospice before,” Beck said.“We all knew death was coming, but it was so helpful to have hospice care there.”
Families in Hospice of Care service in 2014 and previous years were present at the event. Some made donations to the Healthcare Foundation to benefit Hospice of Care at the Chili Cook Off.
Harold Mitchell made a cedar blanket chest and donated it in memory of his mother, Caroline Mitchell, a patient of Hospice of Care. Carolyn Mason pieced and quilted a quilt in honor of Cecil Biram. Deborah Kell donated a framed and numbered waterfowl print in honor of her late husband, Jim Kell.
“We could not do what we do without the community support and partnerships that we have,” Gentry said t.
After Saturday’s event, the cook off raised $31,299 in cash donations and $12,951 in 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.
The Healthcare Foundation has a special “Hospice Fund” where the Cook Off funds and other donations to Hospice of Care are held.