Gumbo Pot takes first place

Published 6:46 pm Saturday, January 26, 2019

The ground was soggy, but the weather was warm and some of the chili even hotter as Warren County residents turned out at Lady Luck Casino for the 10th Annual Chili for Children Cook-Off benefiting the Vicksburg-Warren County Children’s Shelter.

“The weather is amazing,” said Sabrina Lynn, station manager for The Radio People, which sponsors the annual event. “The crowd is amazing and the cooks are amazing.

“I also want to thank our judges (County Judge Marcie Southerland, Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore and Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk) for coming out to help us.”

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The crowd roamed the area outside the Lady Luck arena to sample recipes prepared by each of the 22 entrants, each hoping to take home the first place trophy and a $200 cash award. Second place received $100 and a trophy, and third place $50 and a trophy.

“We’re here for the chili, but also for charity; this is a good charity. We’re helping the children of Vicksburg,” said Jerri Mocknick, who was visiting with a friend, Heidi Alexander.

“This is a chance to get out and get to visit with some people we don’t get to see a lot of during the year,” Alexander said.

And how was the chili? Alexander said the best she had came from a booth set up like a jail. “That where I left my ticket (for people’s choice).”

“We’ve had some interesting chili,” Mocknick said.

The contestants’ booths lined the perimeter of the cook off site, which also featured games and activities for children and groups selling desserts like cookies. But it was the booths and the product they were dishing out that got the most attention.

At one end, Chili Willie (where the secret is in … the pot) featured a group of cooks and assistants dressed like country music star Willie Nelson, complete with red bandanas and blonde pigtails cooking and serving deer chili. This was the second year the group has competed in the cook off.

“We’re a younger version of Willie,” said Rett Evans, one of the impersonators.

“We have a friend who’s in advertising,” said Jay Hobson. “He knew Willie Nelson, and Willie gave him his chili recipe. It’s comeback chili. Once you’ve had it, you come back for more.”

Next to Chili Willie, Tasha Bryant was serving a chicken chili and traditional chili. The difference, she said, was the chicken chili had something extra. She said she’s participated in the cook off every year. “We enjoy it.”

A new entry was Kevin Roberts with Fit Chef.

“We’ve got the healthiest chili around,” he said. “It’s beef chili, but without the sugar and the carbohydrates. We also have a high carbohydrate chili with corn and pickles. It’s healthy vs. mom.”

Back at the judge’s tent the judges were enjoying their samples of chili as they tried to pick the best of the bunch.

“It’s all good,” Southerland said.

When the judging was completed and the spoons put down, the Gumbo Pot’s chili took first place, with Tyson Foods taking second and Bowmar Elementary third. Elevate Church won the People’s Choice Award, while Ameristar Casino had the best decorated booth.

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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