A pair of modified recipes took home two of the top honors Wednesday at the 14th annual Heartland of Hillsboro Chili Cookoff.
Both winning entries – mild and hot – will be prepared by the Highland County Senior Citizens Center and will be served as the main menu items at the 14th annual Chili Supper and Desert Auction on Thursday, March 8 that serves as a fundraiser for the Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults. The supper and auction will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Old Ponderosa Banquet Center in Hillsboro.
Wednesday’s winning entries were created by Sherryl Howell (mild), an assistant activities director at Heartland, and Abby Harrison (hot), who was not on hand for the contest.
The runners-up were Darlene Roades (mild) and Maureen Wood (hot).
Howell said she made her recipe from memory.
“I make it different every time, so it never tastes exactly the same twice,” she said.
Howell said her key ingredients are spices, especially cumin. She said she also uses Mexican spices, black beans, Mexican corn and grilled chicken.
While the winner in the hot category was not present, the runner-up recipe originally came from Heartland resident Dave Conley, who lived most of his life in the Portsmouth and Columbus areas. The version at the cookoff was prepared by his daughter, Maureen Wood.
“When he made it nobody could eat it except his own family because it was so hot,” Conley’s son-in-law, Jeff Wood, said. “So (Maureen) has toned it down a little.”
Judges for the contest were, in the mild category, Sharon Hughes of The Times-Gazette, former Hillsboro City councilman John Dodds, Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy and Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie. The hot category judges were Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings, Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna, Highland County Commissioner and state representative candidate Shane Wilkin and Nelson Hunter of WVNU Radio.
The entries were judged on aroma, ingredients quality, seasoning, meat and overall taste.
Heartland Admissions Director Amy Harper said the facility hosts the event each year as a way to give back to the community and help those in need. She said Highland County is different from other places she’s been because it has an organization like the Highland County Society for Children and Adults that is self-funded.
“Highland County supports itself so we want to help by giving back and helping others who maybe can’t afford medications or other things they need that the society provides for them,” Harper said.
The cookoff winners received gift certificates presented by NCB.
Tickets for the Chili Supper and Dessert Auction are $5 presale or $6 at the door.
The event is sponsored by Heartland of Hillsboro, the Highland County Senior Citizens Center, Amatha Farrens State Farm Insurance, iHeart Radio, Hillsboro Ponderosa Steakhouse, NCB Bank, Real Living Classic Real Estate, The Times-Gazette and WVNU.
The 46th annual radio-telethon will be hosted by the Hillsboro and Greenfield Rotary Clubs on Wednesday, March 28.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]