By GRACE GADDY
A bowl of chili today could make a big difference tomorrow in the lives of some local families.
The City of Palestine will host the fifth annual Chili Cook-off from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday to raise funds for families in need. The holiday benefit will be held at the Palestine Civic Center, located at 1819 Spring St.
Palestine Main Street Manager Laura Westgate called the cookoff a “really fun time” and said it's a great way for community members to “meet the city, and to be part of what we're doing.”
“Everyone who does the cooking is a city employee,” she said. “The reason we do it is to give back. The holidays can be one of the hardest times for families... We like to say that we're making it easier for people in need during the holidays.”
She said proceeds from the event would be distributed through a local organization to Palestine families, a point also noted by City Manager Wendy Ellis.
“Last year, we again raised more than $1,000,” Ellis said. “With that money, we hosted two different families — five children had a happier Christmas.”
The price of admission is $5, and that comes with an all-you-can-eat bowl of chili, all the fixings and one ticket for the prize drawings. Additional tickets for prizes can be purchased for $5 a piece.
Westgate said entries range from “five alarms chili to white chili to chili verde, and everything in between.” She said she expects to see anywhere from eight to 10 unique recipes from competitors.
And what will the winner procure? Bragging rights, according to Westgate.
“Internally, it is bragging rights,” she said. “The people who do this, they love to cook, and they love their chili.”
Defending 2012 winner Lt. Jeffery Powell of the Palestine Police Department will not be returning — so the field is wide open.
Judges this year will be Robin Searcy of the Palestine YMCA; Brian Rucker of Rucker Equipment Company; and Bryan Jones of Red Hat Rentals. Everyone who comes will have a chance to vote for their favorite in the “People’s Choice” category.
“And after all the chili is tasted, and the popular vote is done, they'll start raffling out the tickets at $1 a piece,” Westgate said.
Adam Perry and Cory Rowell, both employees of the utilities department, are the co-chairs of this year’s cookoff.
“It was an easy choice for us,” Perry said of their choice to volunteer. “We wanted to make it easier on a family or two who just needed a little help during the holiday and spread holiday cheer to their families.”
Prizes were donated from the following businesses: Red Hat Rentals, Chicken Express, Fastenal, Ruckers Equipment Co., Sweet Frog, Don Mario’s, Giovanni’s, Jamie’s Therapeutic Touch, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Auto Zone, Dogwood 6, Subs and Dogs, Braly’s Hardware, City Pawn Shop, Little Mexico, Charles E. Dickens Fine Jewelry, Texas Art Depot, Granny Muffin Wines, Dogwood Petting Farm and Cream and Coffee. Donations continue to arrive.
For more information or to donate to the benefit, contact Palestine City Hall at 903-731-8400 or the Palestine Visitor Center at 903-723-3014.
Westgate encouraged the public to attend.
“We would love for them to come and try the chili and support the effort,” she said.