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Corner Bar for the win: Competition was hot at annual Chili Cook-Off Saturday

 

NATCHEZ —Natchez firefighters are serious about two things — fighting fires and making chili.

After responding to a 4:30 a.m. house fire near Lake Montrose, a small group of local firemen battled the competition at the Natchez Rotary Chili Cook-Off Saturday.

Their commitment to making some of the area’s best chili earned them third place, even though they started two hours later than some of the other 19 teams that competed.

The firefighters, who are chili cook-off veterans, were beaten by two newcomers to the event.

First place went to cooks from the Corner Bar, and second place went the team from Performance Dodge.

For $5, food fans could purchase tasting kits to sample chili from all 19 teams. Included with the tasting kits were tickets that tasters could award to their favorite chili. The teams that earned the most tickets won the People’s Choice Award, which went to the men’s group of Trinity Episcopal Church this year.

Rotary Club of Natchez member and Chili Cook-Off organizer Suzanne Steckler said nearly 600 tasting kits were sold during the event Saturday. Proceeds from the cook-off, including area sponsorships, go directly to the Natchez Children’s Center Advocacy Center.

Judges also give a special award to the team with the best booth. This year’s best booth award went to the Krewe of Phoenix.

“We had a great turnout,” Steckler said. “I appreciate the community coming out and supporting us.”

Natchez Children’s Advocacy Center Director Cherish McCallum agreed.

“Everybody was so enthusiastic. It is an amazing gift to us,” McCallum said.

Steckler and McCallum also thanked the teams who participated.

“Without the teams, we would not be able to do what we do without them,” Steckler said.

“The teams made the whole event fun,” McCallum said. “The crowds enjoyed getting to see and meet the team. They made the whole event a lot of fun and vibrant.”

McCallum said the event is critical to the funding for the advocacy center each year.

Serving Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Wilkinson and Claiborne counties, the center focuses on children who have been victimized by physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, or traumatized by witnessing a violent crime.

“We are not a government agency, so the community’s participation and donations are critical. We would not be able to offer our services without it,” McCallum said.

The center applies each year for some government funds, but the bulk of the operating budget comes from donations to the center, McCallum said.

“It is a huge gift to us, and we are so thankful,” McCallum said.

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