Chamber extends chili cookoff entry deadline to Jan. 15

Darrell Todd Maurina

ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Jan. 3, 2009) — Those who want to enter a chili team in the Jan. 24 Polar Meltdown Chili Cookoff have a few more weeks.

The event’s original deadline for entries had been Friday, but Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce officials announced Friday that they’ll extend the deadline to Jan. 15.

Held from noon to 5 p.m. at the St. Robert Community Center, the chili cookoff is intended to showcase local businesses while providing a fundraising opportunity for the chamber’s scholarship program and “Choices” program, which brings chamber members into local eighth-grade classrooms to encourage good choices by students on life decisions. Admission is $10 per adult, $5 for children ages five to 12, and free to children four and under. Chamber officials encourage advance purchases through the chamber office so chili cooks know how much they should make, but limited tickets will be available at the door.

The chili cookoff idea came from local businesswoman Twyla Cordry, according to chamber executive director Cecilia Murray.

“Twyla has participated in a chili cookoff previously in another city and suggested that we try that here since nobody else is doing it,” Murray said. “Everybody else is doing a golf tournament and we are looking at something nobody else is doing.”

Entry fees for the chili cookoff are $110 per team of up to six members or $75 per individual, Murray said. Higher fees had applied for late entries but those have been waived.

Last year’s event raised $1,400, Murray said.

“Obviously we want to do better than we did last year,” Murray said. “If we double that, we will be excited.”

Participants can compete for several different awards ranging from taste to showmanship. A professional chef will be on hand to judge the different chili recipes and donation canisters will be next to each chili booth for a “people’s choice” award in which the chili receiving the highest dollar amount wins.

“For someone to come out and eat for lunch, it’s pretty cheap, and they can try as many chilis as they like,” Murray said.

Other awards are also important, Murray said; the best-decorated booth with a theme for the chili will receive a “showmanship award.”

Last year’s showmanship award went to the city of St. Robert with a construction-themed booth, followed by Citizen’s Mortgage with a “Fowl Play” theme booth for its turkey chili entry and third place going to the city of Waynesville with a theme of the city’s history. Last year’s grand champion chili recipe was Fowl Play.

Full details on the chili prizes and additional sponsorship opportunities are available on the chamber’s website, which is at

Murray emphasized that businesses or individuals interested in serving chili will need to meet Pulaski County Health Department standards.

“It is fun, but it is also serious,” Murray said. “We really want people to come out and try all the chili and vote on the people’s choice, as well as sit back and relax and listen to the entertainment.”

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