The ninth annual Chili Cook Off earlier this month raised $48,300 for Hospice of Care.
The Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation hosts the event, which around 300 people attended this year inside the community building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. More than $19,000 was raised by 17 competing chili teams.
The cook off teams set up booths according to their team theme for the Nov. 7 event. Some teams, like “Heavenly Chili” from the Licking United Methodist Church, keep the same theme each year, offering up again Dutch oven cooked chili described as ”hotter than hell, but closer to heaven.” The TCMH emergency medical services team participates with a different theme each year. This year, the “EMS Misfits” dressed as elves from the Island of Misfits in the classic Christmas movie, “Rudolph”.
The “Restore the Roar” team from the Houston R-1 School District designed their booth like a parade float, and the school tiger mascot joined in the fun. The Houston Walmart Supercenter “Waverunners” set up a beachside bar to serve up their chili with sunscreen on their noses and floppy hats on their heads.
The team fundraising award was the final prize presented. It went to the “Chili Warriors”, a Native American themed team from the TCMH dietary department, who raised $3,389.12. “Ebowla Chili-Team Jayson,” in memory of Jayson Gentry and representing Cabool State Bank, won the silver medal in team fundraising with a $2,959.60 donation from the team efforts. The Walmart Waverunners raised $2,399.90 to claim third.
“This event would not be possible without the incredible effort of the chili cook off teams,” said Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director.
Gentry said teams helped sell raffle tickets for a rifle, quilt and 4-wheeler that were raffled at the end of the event. Harold Sullins of Licking won the four-wheeler. Jen Ellis of Dixon won the rifle. Carol Honeywell of Licking won the handmade, queen-size quilt.
The three chili judges representing sponsors and supporters of the event were Earleen Holder from Progressive Ozark Bank in Houston; Conway Hawn from Anderson and Hawn Law Firm in Houston; and Bill Senter of Grace Manufacturing in Plato. Prizes were given to the chili teams who were competing in several different categories.
“Judges choice” and first place went to “TCMH EMS Misfits” for their white, chicken chili. The second place was the “Landmark Bank Lumberjacks,” who had a white turkey and sausage chili. Third place went to Houston’s Mercy Clinic “Old Country Doc” team for a traditional red chili.
Several teams entered a second type of chili in the “spiciest” category. One prize was awarded to the spiciest chili, and it went to “The A-Team” by Air Evac Lifeteam.
First place in the booth decorating category was won again by Community Bank N.A. with “Roaring Chili,” a speakeasy, 1920’s theme complete with flapper girls serving the chili.
The Houston FBLA constructed the front bow of a pirate ship and served up chili alongside a treasure chest of crackers, cheese and gold coins. The FBLA’s “One-Eyed Chili” won second place in the booth decorating contest.
The Air Evac “A-Team” deconstructed an outdoor dog kennel and used it to make a jail. Their inmates and jailer served up mild and spicy chili from behind the bars of the jail winning third place in the booth decorating contest.
Everyone in attendance was given a ballot for the “people’s choice.” The “A-Team” won first place, followed by “Team Spearpoint” and “Bootie Crew” comprised by Dr. Baldwin and the TCMH Medical Complex.
TCMH employees in attendance were given the opportunity to vote for the “TCMH Choice” among hospital teams participating in the event. The TCMH EMS Misfits won the hospital employee award — their sixth time to claim the prize in nine years.
Silent auctions were followed by a live auction with auctioneer Darren Sheets. Before beginning the live auction at the cook off, Scheets talked about his experience with Hospice of Care.
Scheets explained that many of the area auctions he is hired to host are preceded by the owner’s death. M any times the owner and the family members have received care through Hospice of Care.
“Hospice has provided care for a lot people in this area,” Sheets said. “They have been there for many.”
Dr. Jonathan Beers, medical director for TCMH Hospice of Care, also spoke to those in attendance prior to the auction.
“Our hospice team is here to provide care for parents, grandparents, sons, daughters. They are here for the whole family,” Beers said.
Beers explained that TCMH Hospice of Care offers services that rival hospice agencies in larger, metropolitan areas.
“I would put our hospice team against any of the other teams out there,” Beers said.
Sandy Eaton, licensed practical nurse with Hospice of Care and hospice volunteer coordinator, led a moment of silence for longtime hospice volunteer, Phyllis Arthur.
Brandon Beck, meteorologist at KY3 television station in Springfield and master of ceremonies at the event, interacted with those present, pausing for photos, chili tasting and weather-related jokes.
After Saturday’s event, the cook off raised $36,638 in cash donations and $11,662 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.
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.
The Healthcare Foundation has a designated “Hospice Fund” where the cook off fund and other donations to Hospice of Care are held.