Three of the winners of the 9th annual Simon Kenton Chili Cook-off will return to compete in this year’s cook-off on Sept. 24 in downtown Urbana. In recent interviews the contestants shared their backgrounds and why they compete.
First place winner for 2015 was “Abe Froman’s Sausage Kings of Chicago” comprised of Stacey Pond Koons, Lige Gibson, Renee Scheuermann and Mike Amstutz. They are Champaign County natives and, after attending the festival for years, decided to compete in 2014. They entered under the name “Kings of Chicago” and won first place in 2014. They hold a “pre chili cook off” among friends prior to the event. Chili recipes are tested and small modifications made and the friends select the best – this recipe is used in the competition and does contain a “secret ingredient.” A favorite movie of the group, “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off,” was the inspiration for the team name. Jennifer Ward will be joining the team this year. “So many great chilis compete and all the activities of the day make it a fun day for all,” said Stacey Pond Koons.
Second place winner OSU Alumni of Champaign County decided to compete after participating as vendors selling corn and potatoes for several years. Team members were Chris Harmison, Beth Harrigan, Jim Laudenburg, and Rick VanBuskirk. The hunt began for a great chili recipe and it was decided to prepare a white chili. Following the captains meeting when teams meet and discuss rules/regulations etc., Chris quickly came to the conclusion that a white chili would not win. As she says, “they were set up to fail on their first try!” Back to the stoves and a winning red chili was created! “We decided to enter the competition and become more involved in the event as it demonstrates great community effort and offers the club visibility. We are having a good time and we will be back,” said Chris.
Third place winner “Blackburn’s Afterburn” and fourth place winner “5 Star Chili Peppers” are unable to participate this year, but, look forward to returning in 2017.
Fifth place winner “Spice Girls” has participated for many years. The team included Heather Barnhart, Lisa Miller, Pam Bolton and Jeff Spence. They have entered the contest for five years. The first year, each member made their favorite chili recipe and they threw them all in the same pot and won second place. Last year, they tried a new recipe and took home 5th place. They are working on a new recipe and it will be totally different from their previous entries. They keep returning as they find it to be great fun and the community supports the event and appreciates their efforts. “The entertainment, The Temps, is fabulous and we have a good time. It’s a blast – like a big tailgating party,” said Lisa Miller.
Sign-ups are being accepted until Sept. 16. Early registration discount is available until Sept. 10. Applications are available on line at www.chilicookoffofurbana.com or by contacting Beth Adair, 614-440-7560.