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Chili Cook-off nets $8K for Cystic Fibrosis research

By Staff | Sep 10, 2010

Cheerful chili contestants dish out their wares at last week’s Hot Monkey BIG Chili Cook-off at the Shepherdstown Train Station. (Photo by Jennifer Wabnitz/Chronicle Staff)

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Twenty-two different kinds of chili: Who knew so many could be found in one location and all for a good cause? On tap this past weekend were varieties ranging from mild, southwestern, hot monkey and more – all of which added to the diversity for the Hot Monkey BIG Chili Cook-off.

The event was held Saturday at the Station in Shepherdstown. The extensive number of chili entries showcased at the event may have been different, but there was a commonality among the tasters and the participants, who came together for some “fun raising,” netting more than $8,000 to benefit cystic fibrosis research.

Event organizers said they were thankful that more than just the chili was hot, hot, hot at the event. The speed with which donations came rolling in also was impressive, they said.

In fact, donations started coming in even before the event began. Kohl’s Department Store donated $1,000 in advance, and the Remember Michael Run donated $2,400 the morning of the cookoff, of which Robert C. Stone was one of the sponsors.

This year’s grand-prize-winning chili was made by Larry Shipley, contestant No. 10. For his efforts, he received a weekend for two to the Outer Banks, Marriott Hotel. He also received a gold medal and will have a chance to defend his title at next year’s event.

Not only could attendees at this year’s event sample all the chili selections for just $8, but they also could enjoy a beverage, buy something from the bake table, slurp a snow cone or try their luck at the classic 50 /50 drawing. There also was a cactus cake that was raffled off to benefit the cause, and Lynn Dunlevy placed the winning bid of $140.

“All together the event raised a little over $8,000. We are all very pleased” said Trinsy Stone, one of the event’s organizers.

Though a treat for local residents, the cookoff also drew contestants from far and wide. Ryan Constantine, 12, travelled from Baltimore to present his All-American Chili. He said he found the recipe in a magazine and added a few of his own ideas to personalize the fare. He competed against his mom, who entered her Turkey Chili recipe.

The family said they wanted to participate in the event because their second cousin, Faith Stone, 12, of Shepherdstown, has CF, and they were pleased that Faith’s great-aunt, Lynn, was able to help support the fight for a cure by winning the cactus cake.

The event also was a family affair for Kate Dunbar, 14. She traveled with her family from Waynesboro, Pa. She has some very unique ingredients in her chili, which featured chorizo, Andoullie sausage and lean ground beef as three of the meats in her dish. She said this was her third time competing in the contest, and she said that she does so in support of her mother, Chrissy, who has CF.

It was a youth-dominated day at the cookoff, with many youngsters lending their support to the effort. Three local friends said they helped out by making items for the bake sale. Fallon Stone, 15, and Lydia Harden, both of Martinsburg, and Faith did some tasting, too.

Dena and Kelly O’Neill, who also are Faith’s second cousins, ran the snow cone table, where three delicious flavors were offered.

“The cones are new this year. They’ll be back,” Trinsy Stone said. “They were popular with the kids and with hot chili tasters.”

And there was plenty of chili for attendees to taste at this year’s event, according to local resident Dave Staubs and his daughter, Melissa, who said they come to enjoy the fun and enter their “delicious chili.” There also were a lot of happy customers in the crowd who were able to enjoy the festivities. Among them was Hap Baston, who moved to Shepherdstown in December. He said he is so pleased with all the community has to offer that this “will be the last place I ever live.”

Patti Simmons, another event organizer, also said she was very pleased with the day. Simmons is active in the local community raising funds for CF research. She has spearheaded many fundraisers, ranging from walks to golf tournaments, quilt raffles and the cookoff. She said she will continue to do so until there is a cure.

“CF researchers have come close to discovering a new drug that will help sufferers. Vertek 770 is slated to be presented to the FDA in the fall of 2011,” she said.

She has a vested interest in finding a cure, as she is Faith’s grandmother, truly making the cookoff a family affair.