Rainy weather Saturday didn’t deter the thousands of people who flocked to Ridge Ferry Park to try out the variety of recipes for Trout Unlimited’s 14th annual Chili Cook Off.
This year’s top three winners for the Judges Choice Award were Hillbilly Chili, Pinecrest Golf Carts and Complete Sign Solutions.
The top three Judge’s Choice Award winners got $500 for first, $300 for second and $150 for third. The People’s Choice Awards included Flippin' Good Chili, Team Beer On and Fat Pat and Tubbies for the top three spots in that category. The Best Cook Sites included Monumental Chili, Northwest Georgia Dermatology and Dawg Pound chili team.
The cook’s choice award went to the Complete Cash team.
During the day, Trout Unlimited President Ronny Cooper said around 3,500 people made it out to the park for their annual fundraiser, and said that 80 teams competed for top prizes.
“Our numbers were down 20 percent across the board for this year,” he said. He cited the weather was a likely culprit for the lower numbers this year.
But for Cooper, it was “the perfect chili weather” for the day’s event.
Tasters like Jason Henson didn’t mind the muddy fields at the park, and had a chance to try 10 different varieties throughout the day.
“My favorite was the Title Pawn chili,” Henson said. “It was real good.”
Good chili for Henson like Title Pawn’s recipe must be spicy but not too hot and it must have “the right thickness and consistency.”
There were a few teams whose chili didn’t thrill tasters at all. Denise Peart said she thought that the Cici’s Pizza chili was probably her least favorite of all during the event.
“They need to keep to making pizza,” she said.
Others like Erin Joyce, Erin Demesquita and Ashley Lee said they thought this year’s cook off was much better than in 2008, with a larger variety of types of chili to choose from.
“The chili just tastes better,” Lee said.
Joyce said she also thought the age of the teams made a difference this year.
“There are a lot more young people with tents competing,” she said.
Team Beer On was one of those young teams competing, having placed in the People’s Choice award last year and hoping to do better this year. Kevin Hermetz, creator of the team’s recipe, said their chili was different because of how fresh their ingredients were, which included red wine.
“Our chili is all organic,” he said. “Even the sausage is fresh from the farm.”
Other teams like the Medieval Chili team, on the other hand, got their idea from a friends. Tommy Cook, the team’s chili chef, said his Australian friend Paul Wilson was responsible for their recipe this year.
“He comes up with some funky stuff that’s got an interesting taste to it,” said Cook. “Its some wicked stuff.”
With sponsors, admission and registration fees, Trout Unlimited is able to use this event as their chief annual fundraiser. The yearly event raises money for a number of different programs, including endowments at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry for scholarships; the Arrowhead Environmental Center; the Coosa River Basin Initiative; and local, state and national projects to restore cold water streams.
2009 Trout Unlimited Chili Cook Off winners:
1- Hillbilly Chili team capt. Denise Mansfield
2-Pinecrest Golf Carts
3- Complete Sign Solutions
4-Atlanta Chili Exchange
5- Piggly Wiggly of Armuchee
7- Floyd Co. Wildlife Club
8- West Rome IGA
9- ABC Supply
10- Rebel Yell Chili
1- Monumental Chili
2- Northwest Georgia Dermatology
3- Dawg Pound Chili
1 - Complete Cash
1- Flippin' Good Chili
2- Beer On
3- Fat Pat and Tubbies
5- Fast Printing & Copies