Story by Noriah Williams
Video by Michelle Paetow
Mason Times staff writers
MASON – “Beer, chili and friends,” is what Mason resident Billy and Judy Cool said keeps them coming back every year to the Mason VFW Annual Chili Cook-Off hosted on March 3.
Participants used 10 tables in this year’s event, a small decrease from last year’s 12. With table themes ranging from military support, breast cancer awareness and Spartan pride, individuals, organizations and affiliations brought their best recipes to vie for several titles.
Kathryn Bacon, Jen Hunter, Kyonna Bacon, Courtney Stevens and Katelyn Bennett were head of Duke’s Chili table, decorated with colorful streamers, family photos and other memorabilia.
“We participate in memory of our step-dad and grandfather, Duke, who passed away two years ago,” said Jen Hunter.
Many tables were dedicated to individuals like Duke. Lily’s Chili was named after a spunky young girl equipped with a pink tutu, telling patrons to ‘fight like a girl’ in support of breast cancer awareness. Organizations like the Mason Lions’ Club and the Baja Grille came with their different renditions of chili.
Mike Fickies and Scott Skriba, former presidents of the 7309 men’s auxiliary, are two of the many Mason leaders who helped make the cook-off a success. Calling upon local dignitaries like the police chief, mayor and city commissioner to judge the cook-off, careful precautions are taken to keep the competition fun and fair.
“The chips we sell, we’re looking at who has the most of those little chips gets people’s choice. At every table is a little tin tray and every hour they go out and pick those up, they have a paper bag they put those in, they take them back in the kitchen and count them and keep a tally,” said Fickies.
First-, second-, and third-place winner titles are available as well as table presentation, hottest chili and people’s choice. The year’s judges are unknown and extra steps like escorts for judges and a secret numbering system for the chili is done to hide the identity of the chili’s origins and keep the judging fair.