Fort Payne civic clubs prep for annual chili cook-off event

The Great Chili Challenge iconsists of five local, civic organizations that come together for a night of friendly competition while raising money on January 10, 2020.

The Great Chili Challenge is coming back to Fort Payne next month.

The annual event consists of five local, civic organizations that come together for a night of friendly competition while raising money for a different cause each year.

On January 10, 2020 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the collective group will meet at the Fort Payne High School Cafeteria and give all the proceeds from ticket purchases to the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center. This year, the event is sponsored by Fort Payne’s Kiwanis, Lions, Optimist and Rotary Clubs, with the new addition of the Three Arts Club.

Executive Director of the CAC, Elizabeth Wheatley, said this the first year they’ve been chosen by the Great Chili Cook-off.

“We are honored and deeply grateful for their thoughtfulness to choose us and their generosity to share the proceeds with us,” she said.

The CAC has a “wishlist” of things that are needed at the facility and Wheatley said the funds from the chili cook-off will help accomplish some of those needs, including the replacement of water-damaged carpet, new flooring in the conference room and kitchen area, a new office and work on the interview room.

“We put all our efforts into serving abused and at risk children, so this was a special drive to take care of those needs that we have here in our building,” she said. “We appreciate those involved realizing our need for that, and they are helping us out to accomplish those needs.”

Each club cooks their own batch of chili and local judges taste test each one. A few club officers offered their competitive remarks as they look forward to and plan for the event.

Fort Payne Rotary Club President David Allgood said his club is introducing its best chili yet.

“The Fort Payne Rotary Club looks forward each year to teaming with our fellow service organizations to raise funds for a worthy community need,” Allgood said. “We welcome the chili competition, and hereby offer fair warning that this year, we are unleashing our most aggressive recipe to date; however, this warning may be more for the judges than our competition.”

Kiwanis President Jeremy Taylor said, “The Kiwanis Club is excited to take part in this event again this year. It is fantastic that our civic clubs can come together for a great cause and to have some fun competing against each other.”

The Fort Payne boys and girls basketball games against Albertville will begin at 6 p.m., so Taylor encourages participants to come support the chili cook-off and stay for the games.

“We know our chili will win since Kiwanis hard work and goodwill are cooked into every bowl,” he said. “I respect the other clubs for entering, but clearly they have no chance of winning. Everyone should come out and enjoy the cook-off and Fort Payne basketball.”

Brain Baine, president of the Fort Payne Optimist Club, wants to remind the community why the event organizers chose to sponsor the CAC this year.

“This year’s [Great] Chili Challenge will go to benefit an organization that is close to my heart, and that is the DeKalb County CAC,” he said. “I think it is a great opportunity for all the civic clubs to work together on an event that will benefit folks right here in our community. I encourage everyone to buy a ticket and come enjoy a warm bowl of chili.”

Fort Payne Lions Club President Sam Dobbs said his team will win again this year.

“Well, the Lions Club did win the competition last year, and I think we will come back to win this year. We want to dominate each year. We have fun with this, but at the end of the day we want to raise a pool of money to give to the CAC. It’s great to see clubs work together. All the civic clubs have great relationships and this competition is a fun way to bring us together to work for a great cause.”

Tickets are currently for sale for $5 each at First Fidelity Bank, The Times-Journal and Bruce’s Foodland in Fort Payne.

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