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Natchez will be chili for cook-off on Nov. 10

 

NATCHEZ—Make no beans about it, a variety of homemade chili is coming to Natchez for the Natchez Rotary Chili Cook-Off 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 10.

The event will be on Broadway Street on the Natchez Bluff in front of the Natchez Grand Hotel.

The chili cook-off has traditionally been a fun time for all ages of chili lovers and those who prepare it, said Suzanne Steckler, service chair for the Rotary Club of Natchez. The unsanctioned event makes it a fun competition with local dignitaries often serving as judges.

“It’s an exciting time, and it brings traffic downtown,” Steckler said.

More than 15 teams are expected, Steckler said, and their chili will be judged through a blind tasting by a panel of local dignitaries. Steckler said the teams are allowed to prepare ingredients prior to the event but must make their 5-pound pots of chili on site.

The first- through third-place winners will receive prizes to be determined before the event. One prize also will be awarded for the best outfits and booth.

For $5 everyone will receive a cup for samplings of all the chili.

Tom Hughes, a potter, will offer his signature chili bowls for purchase, which allows for bigger portions of chili. Committee Member Betsy Iles said Hughes’ bowls sold out last year.

Participants can vote as many times as they like through the purchase of $1 People’s Choice tickets, Steckler said. The People’s Choice winner also will receive a prize to be determined.

Steckler said cooks sometimes have a little fun campaigning for the people’s choice.

“There is a little politicking that goes on, and they pull people their way,” Steckler said.

All competition aside, Steckler said the real winners are the children who receive a much-needed service provided by the Natchez Children’s Services Children’s Advocacy Center.

Steckler said the CAC serves Adams, Claiborne, Franklin, Jefferson and Wilkerson counties.

“If a child needs to testify they bring them to one location to meet with a child psychiatrist, so they don’t have to be interviewed over and over by the sheriff and lawyers,” Steckler said. “This is a way of lessening the trauma the child has to go through. That’s what the money is going toward.”

The family-friendly event will include a blow-up slide for children, root beer floats and face painting. Beer and soft drinks also will be available.

Cherish McCallum, executive director of Natchez Children’s Services, said a silent auction will include baskets full of goods, appliances, art and hunting packages.

Some of the standout items will be a stay at a Victorian Chalet in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and a stay in a four-bedroom cabin in Homer, Alaska, Steckler said.

Entry fees are $50 for solo competitors or teams with up to 20 people. The entry deadline is Oct. 31.

The deadline for sponsorships is Oct. 19. To sponsor or enter the competition, call 601-431-2598.

For more information on Natchez Children’s Services, call 601-442-6858.

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