Annual Great Chili Challenge is Friday

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who makes the best chili of them all?

This question will be settled in the lunchroom of Fort Payne High School on Friday, Jan. 14 from 5-7:30 p.m., as the Great Chili Challenge returns. The competition takes place before Fort Payne High School’s basketball team takes on rival Scottsboro.

“We hope to see everyone on Friday,” said Chamber Executive Director Jennifer McCurdy.

Tickets are $5 each, with all proceeds going to the Patriots Memorial Park. Call (256) 845-2741 or email for more information.

The event is sponsored by the Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, Fort Payne Main Street, Heil, GH Metal Solutions, DC Gas, Twin City Used Cars, Fort Payne Water, First Fidelity Bank and Vulcraft. Several civic organizations are providing volunteers to work the Chili Challenge, including the Fort Payne Lions Club, Fort Payne Rotary Club, Fort Payne Three Arts Club, Fort Payne Kiwanis Club, Fort Payne Optimist Club, Fort Payne Altrusa Club, the DeKalb County VFW, Fort Payne Chamber of Commerce, and Fort Payne Main Street.

The event started as a way for the civic clubs to work together toward a common goal as a group, which brought together the presidents of the Lions, Kiwanis, Optimist, Altrusa and Rotary clubs. Each of the groups have traditionally selected a representative to be judged on their bowl of chili.

“It’s always good to have a little bit of friendly competition going on, and it’s for nothing more than bragging rights,” said Fort Payne Mayor Brian Baine.

It’s all in good fun, but the event has raised some serious money in the past, including over $8,000 raised for the Fort Payne City Schools special needs department in 2017, the first year doing it when the Altrusa Club took top honors and the Optimists raised the most money. In 2020, proceeds went to the DeKalb County Children’s Advocacy Center, which accepted a $2,350 check from the clubs during the Eddie McPherson Memorial Dinner Theatre.

Baine is pushing for completion of the Patriots Memorial Park, which has slowly come together since 2014 but still needs the final touch of granite memorials to commemorate WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, the Iraq wars and two monuments to honor police and fire departments to achieve the full vision to honor those citizens who’ve answered the nation’s call as veterans of the armed forces. Baine set the goal last fall of unveiling the finished venue by Veterans Day of this year. The recent ice skating event raised $10,000 for the Patriots Memorial Park.

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