Crowds gather for chili at Lady Luck

Published 2:42 pm Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Mississippi River was lapping the bank near Lady Luck Casino, there was a chill in the air and the ground was soggy from several days of rain, but the crowd was large and the chili warm for Vicksburg’s 11th Chili Cook-off.

Sponsored by The Radio People, the latest edition of the cook-off to benefit the Warren County Children’s Shelter and Jacob’s Ladder featured a variety of recipes ranging from mild to hot.

As they ate their samples of chili, diners were able to look at classic cars; children played in bounce houses, got a balloon sculpture from a clown or had their face painted. The theme for the cook-off was based on super heroes.

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Dressed as Batman, Chris Burks, who has a morning program on River 101.3, was one of the diners touring the booths on the field by Lady Luck.

“The turnout is great,” he said. “And it will get better as the day goes on and the sun comes out and things dry out a little. People can come out and enjoy the chili, the kids can play and see the clown, and it’s all to help the Children’s Shelter and Jacob’s ladder.”

Not far from Burks, a crew from Ameristar Casino was ladling out chili to visitors in a booth promoting the super hero The Flash.

“We decided to do something different,” said Amy Buckman, the casino’s hospitality manager. “We decided to uses a lesser known super hero. Everyone is familiar with Superman and Batman, but not many people know The Flash.”

Dressed as The Flash, Mark McGraw, one of Ameristar’s marketing coordinators, said this was the first year the casino has participated in the cook-off.

A veteran cook-off group was wearing capes as The Super Zeroes.

“We’re so used to coming in last in the cook-off that this year we decided to try and embrace it,” said Rett Evans, the group’s leader. “We’re respecting the cook-off, and this year we have a winning recipe, or at least one that keep us from coming in last.”

Another group making their initial appearance at the cook-off was the ABATE Avengers. The name, Vanessa Shiers said, stands for American Bikers Aimed Toward Education, a motorcycle rights organization that brings attention to issues affecting riders.

“We’re here to tell people about our organization and to help the children of Warren County,” she said.

At a tent near the entrance to the cook-off, The Radio People’s station manager Sabrina Lynn was sorting through papers for the chili judges.

“This is fantastic,” she said. “We’ll have our biggest traffic from 12 to 1 (p.m.), because that’s lunchtime,” she said.

She said the field adjacent to Lady Luck where the cook-off was held has been soggy for many of the previous cook-offs, “But the people don’t seem to mind; they just put on their rubber boots and come.”

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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