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Church to host annual chili cook-off

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Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

The Breakneck Church of God will hold its annual chili cook-off from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at its Fellowship Hall.

A dinner follows the cook-off. The menu includes all-you-can-eat chili with all the fixings, sour cream, shredded cheese, onions and crackers or Italian bread and butter, apple pie and ice cream and hot or cold beverage.

Anyone can participate in the chili cook-off by preparing their own recipe and having it at the Fellowship Hall to be sampled by the judges by 1 p.m. Saturday.

Categories for chili include regular, hot and most unusual. The judges will award a winner in each category, with all others receiving a special recognition ribbon for participating. Usually there are 30 different chili flavors to choose from. The judges change from year to year and are not church members.

The recipes created by participants are endless, from the traditional with beans and meat, to the unusual such as breakfast chili. The ingredients for the breakfast recipe include maple sausage, sage sausage, hot sausage, beans, maple syrup as well as the usual tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and spices. It has a sweet flavor. There's a white chicken chili made with chicken, white beans, spices and hot jalapenos and a pizza chili with pepperoni and basic pizza ingredients. There is Yankee chili that has macaroni in it and there has been hot dog chili and old bay chili.

“There are so many original ideas,” said Doris Jean Sparks, chairwoman of the yearly event.

“There are those that include pork and venison and ham. There are some that are meatless, vegetarian, some with no beans, a Texas chili and some that have ingredients that you could never imagine would taste good in chili but are out-of-this world delicious,” she said.

Contestants are encouraged to enter as many different kinds of chili as they want.

“You can't believe how many different kinds there can be. There are many repeat participants from year to year and we're glad about that. We see lots of familiar faces each year, friends, neighbors and family who meet to eat and visit for their evening meal. And we always like having new people to enjoy our event and hopefully become yearly attendees too. It seems like once people come out to our chili cook-off they make sure they plan to come back next year for good food and fellowship,” Sparks said, estimating about 100 people are usually served.

The chili cook-off includes a kids division. It's for children ages 8 to 15 who want to get in on the fun with recipes they have created.

All participants bring a crock pot filled with their chili, already warm for serving. Everybody has to have a name for their chili when they bring it and it can't have their name in it.

The committee goes all out in decorating for the contest/dinner too. The Fellowship Hall is decorated in a bright and festive Mexican theme. Red chili pepper lights are strung. Dry goods are set about. Sombreros and red place mats add lots of color. There are cactus and cowboy hats and boots. It's all to keep up the fun, said Sparks.

For those on a special diet meatless, beanless and white (chicken) chili are offered.

Cost is $7 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 5-10 and children under age 4 eat for free. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Take-out is available. The event is held on the third Saturday in March each year. The Fellowship Hall is right above the church located at 798 Breakneck Road — there is plenty of parking. Everyone is invited.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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