Cook-off nets $3,200 for local abuse shelter

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 15, 2009

On a sunny autumn afternoon, 13 teams of professional and amateur cooks served up bowls of steamy chili Saturday in the parking lot of Vicksburg Cycles on North Frontage Road to raise money for runaway and abused children in Warren County.

With the help of volunteers, Vicksburg Cycles owner Mike Holloway hosted the chili cook-off, which drew in more than 100 spectators who strolled about the lot with chili bowls in hand and an orange ring around their mouths.

“We’ve got everything from elaborate setups to people who cooked their chili at home and brought it here in Crock-Pots,” said April Kleinhann, one of the cook-off’s organizers and volunteers. “We started off hoping to raise a small amount of money, but because the turnout has been so good we’ll probably end up with about $3,000 for the children’s shelter.”

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When all was said and done, the event exceeded even that estimate — bringing in a total of $3,200 — after cook-off winner Tamra Miller donated the $260 she won for first place to the children’s shelter.

“That’s what the whole day was about,” said Miller of her donation. “I was just shocked I won.”

Cindy McCarley, program director for the shelter and one of three cook-off judges, said the money raised will go toward feeding, clothing and housing approximately 130 abused and neglected children at a confidential shelter location in Warren County. The shelter helps children up to 17 years of age, and also has non-residential programs.

“This really means a lot to us,” said McCarley. “The support is outstanding,”

The 13 teams that competed in the cook-off came primarily from Vicksburg, but there were teams from Jackson, Port Gibson and Tallulah. The event was also part bike show, as dozens of cyclists stopped in at the cook-off to support the event. It was the first ever chili cook-off hosted by Vicksburg Cycles, and Holloway said it’s possible a second will be organized next year.

“It’s a great day to get out for a ride on the bike, eat some chili and support a good cause,” said Roger Harris of Vicksburg, who brought his 8-year-old son, Miles, to the cook-off.

Contact Steve Sanoski at