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Saturday was the perfect chilly day to eat chili.
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There was plenty of chili to be tasted at the 21st Big Chili Cook-off on Sept. 10, as the hardy braved temperatures in the mid-40s and a drizzle of rain to sample 69 chilis. Many wore winter coats, hats, and gloves as they walked among the booths.
Lora Knowlton, Big Chili’s event director, said in her nine years working for Big Chili, she couldn’t remember weather on the cool, wet side. She hoped this was the one year for the change, and the weather would return to its normal warm and sunny for the next nine years.
However, she and many at the event noted that chili and chilly weather go hand in hand.
Joe Fowler, an emcee for the cookoff, honored firefighters from Elk Creek, Evergreen, Indian Hills, Inter-Canyon, North Fork and Platte Canyon fire departments, noting that proceeds from Big Chili are split among them.
With attendees eating great red, green and vegetarian chilis and fire departments getting donations, Fowler noted that everyone wins.
He asked for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives during 9/11, especially the 343 firefighters who died that day.
Big Chili is fun for everyone — with drinks, entertainment and shopping plus a wide range of chilis. Attendees could taste everything from Evergreen Fire/Rescue’s Chili Chili Bang Bang to Inter-Canyon Fire’s Mardi Gras Mambo.
The Himmelman family had three booths — Himmelman Construction, Brian Himmelman’s State Farm Insurance and then the independent Himmelman booth. Wyatt Himmelman said his uncles usually have the chili-cooking limelight, so he and his mom Angie decided to have their own booth with a chili called Slap UR Dad Silly.
Cactus Jack’s Saloon and Grill had its traditional Cactus Red and Cactus Green, also showing off its trophies from winning in past years. Awards are given for best chilis plus a showmanship award for best decorated booth.
It took Oliver Greener two months to perfect his Rockin’ Red chili at the Indian Hills Fire booth. He explained that every couple of weekends since July he made a batch of chili to tweak the recipe in time for Big Chili.
For the Indian Hills crew, the chili offerings are all in the family. Greener took over from Tim Kram, who has created Indian Hills Fire’s entry in the cookoff for about 15 years. Also cooking this year for Indian Hills was Kram’s daughter, Audrey, who created Operation Chili Freedom.
Audrey, a senior at Conifer High School, made her own chili power to put into the recipe. This is her third time making chili for the cookoff.
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