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Fifth annual chili cook-off benefits organizations

Sister and brother Deborah and John Lamb were visiting Hahn's Peak on Sunday when they heard about the fifth annual Great North Routt County Chili Cook-off.
Allison Plean

— Deborah Lamb grew up on the kind of chili her mother would pour over spaghetti.

“That’s the Cincinnati, Ohio kind,” she said. “And it is very mild.”

Deborah and her brother John Lamb were visiting Hahn’s Peak area from Lafayette and Philadelphia when they heard about the fifth annual Great North Routt Chili Cook-off on Sunday. Although they don’t consider themselves chili connoisseurs, John knows the difference between “chile” and “chili.”



“Our mother used to fix chili con carne, which was red and made with pinto beans. Chile is green – from Mexico and New Mexico – and made with pork,” he said. “We come from a family that loved food, talked about food and ate a lot of food.”

Organizers Brian and Shaunna Watterson admitted to spending a lot of time watching cooking shows.



“We’re Food Network junkies and five years ago, we saw a chili cook-off on there,” Shaunna said. “That’s how this started.”

Unlike other stricter chili cook-offs, there are no ingredient restrictions and Brian considers this one to be more of a big, fun potluck.

“We are not hard core about entries,” he said. “If they come in one minute late, we are not going to disqualify them.”

The Chili Cook-off contestants came from across Routt County and included 45 different entries in the red chili, green chili, dessert and soup categories. A panel of judges chose the winners because guests arrived.

More than 100 live and silent auctions were donated as well, and each year the proceeds benefit a different organization.

“This year, we are splitting it between the North Routt Preschool and Early Learning Center and Hahn’s Peak Area Historical Society,” Brian said. “The Historical Society wants to move the Wither Cabin, which is the oldest structure – circa 1880 – into the Hahn’s Peak Village.”

The North Routt Preschool is expanding into a new facility and will soon be accepting infants and toddlers.

“We will use the money for the playground, some fencing and more equipment,” said assistant director Hillary Ackerman. “It will help the transition into the new center.”

Besides being a great event for socializing and supporting community projects, the organizers said there are two main things people should know when attending the Great North Routt Chili Cook-off.

“There is a range of spiciness” of the chili, Brian said. “So we try to label them in advance so people don’t get blown away.”

“And the chili goes fast,” Shaunna added. “So you have to get here early, especially if you want to taste the winners.”


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