The North Country Chili Cook-off found a healthy mix of newcomers and familiar competitors Saturday, as it marked its 15th year.
For professional clown Sarah M. Hovey, Saturday was a change of pace. In all but one year, she and other clowns have worked the event.
Finally we decided to make some chili, she said, standing at the table in the Dulles State Office Building for her team, Chili Con Clownies.
As attendees stopped to taste her teams chili, which included red wine and cloves, she and the teams other clowns occasionally would stop to move to the music of a nearby DJ.
You get to dance, tell people your stupid jokes, she said. Its awesome.
A few tables down, the table for the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center saw a high volume of traffic, burning through its entire chili supply with more than an hour left in the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center has fielded a team each year of the competition.
Casey M. St. Louis, who helped run the table, said it was encouraging for the centers clients to be involved in the competition.
They love coming here, and they love eating chili, she said.
Teams for the JRC, along with Trinity Episcopal Church, Army & Navy American Legion Post 61 Auxiliary, The Winemaker and Stewarts Shops, were given a special recognition Saturday for participating each year of the competition.
Though the competition, sponsored by the Jefferson County American Legion Auxiliary, is mainly for bragging rights, its fundraising serves an important function for the Volunteer Transportation Center, which helps people get to medical and other appointments.
Without this event we couldnt do it, said Cathleen J. Commeret-Whitcomb, the events co-chairwoman.
She said the event has grown dramatically since it was first held in 1999, generating about $5,000. This year, she said, the goal was to raise at least $35,000.
People come back because its a lot of fun, Ms. Commeret-Whitcomb said. People like to compete.
In the professional category, Con Carne Deliza, sponsored by DeVitos Catering, won first place, followed by Summit Heat and Edgewood Resort. Advanced Business Systems topped the amateur category for the third year in a row, followed by the Watertown Firefighters Benevolent Association and Pride of JRC. Sweet and Spicy won the vegetarian category, and Shamroc Sheffs won the Peoples Choice award. Chili Con Clownies won the award for best dressed and most congenial, First Niagara Bank won the best-decorated category, and 102 Blue Crew won the most unusual recipe category.
Video from the competition can be seen at http://wdt.me/chili-cookoff.