It was a chili day Wednesday at Heartland of Hillsboro.
The nursing facility not only hosted its 12th annual Chili Challenge, but chili made by two Heartland employees took home the top awards in both the mild and hot categories.
There were 11 entries (six mild and five hot) in the contest that was open to the public and was judged by a panel of seven individuals not affiliated with the nursing home.
The winner in the mild division was listed as Hillsboro resident Larry Roades. But his wife, Darlene, a Heartland receptionist, said that while the entry may have had her husband’s name on it, she’s the one who made it.
She said there was no big secret to her recipe.
“I just put McCormack chili seasoning in it, hamburger to give it some thickness, an equal amount of kidney beans and Brooks chile beans, V8 juice, and that’s it, except for a little water, sugar and salt,” Darlene Roades said. “That’s the way I always made it so I guess you could say it’s a family recipe.”
The runner-up in the mild division was Sherryl Howell and third place went to Barb Cole.
The winner in the hot division was Tammy Page, a Portsmouth resident who works at Heartland.
“I went overseas and lived in Africa for a while and I came back with the spices,” Page said. She said the secret is Peri Peri, which is a blend of spices.
The runner-up in the hot division was Alex Butler and third place went to Kevin Mitchell.
Cole said she was well aware that she finished third in her division while Butler finished second in his. They have both announced their intentions to run for the Highland County commissioner position being vacated by Tom Horst.
“I told him you better not get used to beating me,” Cole joked.
Butler laughed and said he told Cole, “This won’t be the last time.”
The winning recipes in both divisions will be prepared by Kroger for the annual Chili Supper & Silent Auction from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, March 3 at the Old Ponderosa Banquet Center in Hillsboro. The supper and auction benefit the Ernie Blankenship Telethon for the Highland County Society for Children and Adults that will take place Wednesday, March 30 at Merchants National Bank in Hillsboro.
The dinner includes chili, cornbread, brownies, desserts and beverages. Tickets are $5 presale from any of the event sponsors and $6 at the door.
Last year the supper raised a record $2,535.
The judges for the cookoff were Times-Gazette Media Sales Director Sharon Hughes, John Dodds, John Gibbs with Gibbs Insurance Associates, Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin, Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera and Nelson Hunter with WVNU.
The winners received $50 Kroger gift cards and the runners-up received $25 Kroger gift cards. The third place finishers received tickets for two to the Cincinnati Ballet.
“We want to thank all our sponsors. This event has grown to be something that’s really good for our community,” said Debbie Rhude, who organizes the event for Heartland. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
This year’s sponsors are Amatha Farrens State Farm Insurance, Bell Gardens Assisted Living, Buckeye Country 105.5, East Ambulance, Gibbs Insurance Associates, Heartland of Hillsboro, Hillsboro Ponderosa Steak House, Kroger, NCB, Classic Real Estate, The Times-Gazette and WVNU 97.5.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.