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Kiwanis Chili Cook-off draws crowd with new polling option

By Staff | Dec 6, 2019

Helen Burns and her husband, John Burns, of Shepherdstown, pay volunteer Jay Walker, of Shepherdstown, to participate in the chili cookout in the War Memorial Building on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Once again, Shepherdstown Kiwanis Club’s annual chili cook-off drew the crowds into the War Memorial Building on Friday night. But this year, the cook-off was a little different, as Kiwanis and community members competed to win the prize for being the best chili in one of three categories — regular, spicy and unique.

As chili voters walked down the line of chili-filled crockpots to get a sample of each chili, Kiwanis members, friends and local students quickly served each one, filling a plastic sample cup for the voters to put on their plates. One of the students helping at the event, was Key Club member and Jefferson High School senior Luis Neira.

“It is my firs time helping with this,” Neira said, in between serving voters. “I thought it would be a great thing to do on my Thanksgiving break.”

Seventeen chilis competed in the cook-off, according to SKC Secretary Adelle Knott.

“We’ll break the 200 mark tonight. We always sell out. It grows every year because of word-of-mouth, and we do put the announcements in the paper and on TV,” Knott said about the event, which she helped charter member Carl Wolf found. “We’ve been doing it for about 25 years.

Russ Byrum, of Shepherstown, watches Kiwanis volunteer Marsha Young dish out a cup of chili for him, in the War Memorial Building on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

“The cook-off part is a new feature this year,” Knott said. “We’ve always had many varieties of chili, but this is the first time we’ve added the competition element into it. In the past we haven’t opened it up to the community, but this year, we have, and have seen more chili entries because of it.”

As Russ Byrum, of Shepherdstown, waited in line to get each cup of chili, he said he thought adding the voting element to the event was a good idea.

“I go to this event every year and their other fundraisers, even though I’m not a member,” Byrum said. “I like the voting element, because I like to try all of the chilis they prepare. I want to see which ones I like the best.”

According to Knott, who has been the event’s organizer for many years, proceeds from the event were divided between two causes.

“The raffle funds go to the Children’s Department of the Shepherdstown Public Library,” Knott said, of the 35 raffle items. “The rest of the proceeds will mostly go to support the K-Kids at T.A. Lowery School, the Key Club at Jefferson High School and the Builders Club at Wildwood Middle School.

To learn more about the Shepherdstown Kiwanis Club, visit www.facebook.com/shepherdstownkiwanis.