Two homemade recipes whose creators said are never quite the same were the winners of the 15th annual Chili Challenge held Wednesday at the Highland County Senior Citizens Center.
Jacquie Barrera, the wife of Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, was the winner in “hot” category and Leesburg resident Sandy Coates was the winner in the “mild” category.
There were 13 entries in the mild category and four entries in the hot category.
Over its past 14 years, the Chili Challenge and the Chili Dinner and Dessert Auction that follow it have raised just short of $30,000 for the Ernie Blankenship Memorial Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults. The chili challenge was started by Debbie Rhude and Brett Kirkpatrick at Heartland of Hillsboro and Rhude was at the event Wednesday, dishing out chili to the judges and tallying their votes.
Both winning entries will be prepared for the annual Chili Supper and Dessert Auction that will be held from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Pondo Banquet Center in Hillsboro. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. Presale tickets are available at the senior center, NCB and from any Rotary member. All proceeds benefit the radio-telethon.
Chris Nelson was the runner-up Wednesday in the mild category and Ruth Crabtree was the runner-up in the hot category.
It was debatable how much the sheriff “helped” with his wife’s recipe, but he said that anytime he has watched chili being made, it’s never done quite the same.
“She always tries to experiment with different tastes,” the sheriff said of his wife’s recipe.
He said her recipe included hamburger, sausage, a small habanero pepper, half a green bell pepper, McCormick seasoning, V-8 Juice, tomato juice, tomato paste and chili powder.
Coates, a member of the senior center, said she has been making her recipe for many years.
“It’s my recipe and I just put the ingredients together and a sometimes add a little something else in it,” she said.
She said her recipe included hamburger, sausage, dark kidney beans, chili beans, mild salsa, diced tomatoes, tomato juice and Chili-O chili mix.
The winners received $50 gift certificates and the runners-up received $25 gift certificates, all from NCB, which has sponsored the awards since the challenge’s inception.
Just before the judges were presented with their first chili samples, Hillsboro Police Chief Darrin Goudy, sitting at the “hot” judges table, joked, “I just want everyone to know which side the boys in blue (police department) are sitting on and which the side the guys in black and gold (sheriff’s office) are sitting on.”
Judges for the hot chili were Goudy, Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna, Nelson Hunter of WVNU, Jim Gibbs of Gibbs Insurance Associates and Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings.
Judges for the mild chili were Donnie Barrera, Sharon Hughes of The Times-Gazette, longtime local Extension agent Nikki Eyre, Nick Thompson of the sheriff’s office, Bryce Matson of WCHO/WSRW and senior center employee Koni Boatman.
“They were all good,” McKenna said of the chilis. “The cooks should be complimented.”
The 47th annual radio-telethon will be held Wednesday, March 27.
Hosted by the Rotary Clubs in Hillsboro and Greenfield, it will be broadcast live from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. from the Merchants National Bank main office in Hillsboro on the local community access channel of the Spectrum Cable System, and on WSRW 101.5 FM, WSRW AM 1590 and iHeart radio. In Greenfield, the event will be broadcast from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. from the McClain High School Media Room on the local community access channel of the Spectrum Cable System along with periodic live broadcasts on radio station WVNU FM 97.5.
The first radio-telethon was held in 1973 at the former Hillsboro Bank office and raised $1,715. During the past 46 years, the two Rotary Clubs have raised more than $3.6 million for the society. Almost all of the society’s funds are raised through the event.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.