9th annual Chili for Children sees large crowd

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, January 27, 2018

The weather was damp and breezy, but the chili was warm and comforting as the 9th annual Chili for the Children Chili Cook-off to benefit the Warren County Children’s Center got underway Saturday inside the Lady Luck Casino’s arena.

“We usually hold this outside, but we moved inside this year because of the weather,” The Radio People spokesperson Delores Evans said.

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The move inside didn’t affect the crowd as people packed the arena to sample different chili recipes prepared by 24 cooks and set in pans on a row of tables. The event also offered other fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs for those who wanted something different or wanted something extra to go with their chili.

The band Slap Happy provided music for the diners and for the children playing in and on bounce houses or getting their faces painted. Outside, members of the Vicksburg Cruisers Car Club had some of their classic cars on display.

The cooks set up their “kitchens” outside the event center.

“We call it ‘Revolutionary Chili,’” said Rett Evans of the six-member Chilin Dales team, a play on the Chippendales male strippers. Each team member wore bow ties and T-shirts giving them the appearance of being topless.

“This is a Welsh recipe,” Evans said. “It uses beef and it’s medium (hot). The heat doesn’t get to you at first; it hits you on the back end.”

He said the team was a late entry in the cook-off. “We decided to do it because it’s for the children,” he said.

Not far from the Chilin Dales, the Vicksburg Cruisers had their cooking gear and tables under a purple, green and gold tent that was decorated with a Mardi Gras theme.

Club president Kim Wohlfeil said the club’s recipe was a mild chili with beef and sausage.

“It’s really good chili with no after taste,” he said. “We’re No. 4 (on the table).”

At a small tent in the corner of the cooking area, Kevin Roberts was watching as Rachel Dean stirred chili at Bowmar Elementary School’s tent. Roberts, a chili cook-off veteran, was supervising Dean’s work.

Dean, a first grade teacher at Bowmar, said this was the second year the school has entered a cook-off.

“I did it last year with my first graders,” she said.

“We have an organization called the Mini Lighthouse, made of students from kindergarten to second grade. They had a hot chocolate sale to raise money for the cook-off.”

Next to the Bowmar tent, Jacke Hall, owner of Halls Gifts and Treasures, was cooking his two-bean chili in a black iron pot over a wood fire.

“I’ve always done it that way,” he said.

“This way, you feel like you’re doing something. We have to work for our food. We have to make the fire and stir the pot to cook it.”

Another team, the River City Misfits, had a western theme with the front of a frontier jail and a painted backdrop of prisoners behind bars.

“We’re cooking a beef chili,” said Angela Jackson. “We decided to stick with the basics.”

Back inside, Slap Happy had taken a break, but the crowds were still lining up at the tables to sample the different styles of chili.

“It’s excellent,” said Paul Eagles, who had a small stack of plastic foam cups in front of him.

“This is the first time I’ve gotten to go to this, and the fact that this to help the Children’s Shelter makes it a great event.”

Dwayne Franklin, another first-timer, also complimented the chili.

“It’s great. I’ve gone to chili cook-offs in other states, but this is my first time here. This is an awesome event and it helps the children. That’s why I came here.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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