Participants raise $12,942 for Warren County Children’s Shelter at eighth cook-off

Published 7:44 pm Saturday, January 28, 2017

Meat, beans, sauces and peppers were heating up Saturday afternoon outside of Lady Luck Casino.

The eighth annual Chili for Children Cook-off took place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grass lot outside the casino as crowds gathered to sample chili from 21 different tents.

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An estimated $12,942 was raised during the event for the Warren County Children’s Shelter.

Top finishers were in third place Chick-fil-A, in second place River City Misfits and in first place Austin’s Camp Chili.

Jo Jo Grammer said Austin’s Camp Chili is named after his son and is a family team with a sponsor from Piggly Wiggly in Port Gibson.

“I couldn’t do it without my son, my nephew, my niece, my family,” he said.

This was his seventh year to compete in the cook-off and his fourth year to place — two first place finishes, one second place and one third place over the years. Each year he gives his earnings from the victory back to the children’s shelter.

“It’s for the kids. It’s the reason we do it,” Grammer said.

Grammer said his chili recipe features deer burger and wild hog sausage, which is what makes it a winner.

“We cook wild game every year,” he said. He plans to come back next year.

The best-decorated tent went to Tyson Foods, and the people’s choice award went to Elevate Church.

Overall, many said the crowd size was down compare to past years, but spirits were high.

Students from Bowmar Elementary School had a tent with first grade teacher Rachel Dean and were serving a chili made from her mother’s recipe with onions, bell peppers, garlic, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes and more.

Tyler McNeal was participating in the festivities with his father-in-law for the Center for Continuous Improvement. The team was serving a Cincinnati style chili, but McNeal said the recipe was secret.

“We did something different to try to be noticed,” he said.

Tim McCarley was manning the Warren County Children’s Shelter chili tent serving 10 gallons of a smoked pork butt and smoked sirloin chili called Bad Dog Chili.

“I’ve used it for years out here,” he said.

John Pelton of Merit Health River Region had a chili with pork belly and smoked beef brisket with a little help from Alex Monsour.

“It might have been a little greasy,” Pelton said of the chili.

For the last three years the South Side Rydaz have attended the cook-off. Most members of the group were enjoying Austin’s Camp Chili. The group comes to the cook-off to support the children, vice president Carlton “Crunk Pea” Phillips said.

“We’re trying to give back to the community,” he said.

Music played and kept the crowd entertained as they dined on a variety of chili styles. Children had an inflatable slide, face painting and balloon animals to bring as much fun as possible to the windy but sunny day. Drinks, desserts and T-shirts were on sale as well as a raffle held to raise as much money as possible for the children’s shelter.