More than 600 community members found warmth in hot bowls of chili Saturday afternoon during First Presbyterian Christian Academy’s annual chili cook-off.
This year, George Holtzman, owner of Coldwell Banker Holtzman, Realtors, took top honors, winning both the judge’s choice and people’s choice categories. Liberty County Assistant Administrator Bob Sprinkel took second in both categories. Rebecca Anderson won best-decorated booth.
“Great chili should look good, smell good and taste good,” according to an information sheet provided to the judges. Six competitors and their teams manned chili pots, Crock-Pots and grills. After purchasing tickets, guests were allowed to sample all the chili entries as well as a multitude of desserts, which also were judged.
“The reason we do this is two-fold,” FPCA Principal Shannon Hickey said. “One, it’s a fundraiser for the school. It is one of two signature events we host each year with the second being the Highlander Gala in the spring (this year, April 5). The second reason is to engage the community. We really like the community involvement at the school and enjoy having them at the school. It is a way for us to reach out.”
In addition to chili and desserts, the event included live music by Band1, Lava Lamp and EvenSong. There were games and activities for kids, including a slide, “treasure in the hay,” mechanical-bull riding, a climbing wall, bowling and gladiator games. The star attraction, though, was the chili tasting.
“I smoke my chili for about two hours at 300 degrees,” said Holtzman, whose line for samples tended to be the longest. “I brown the meat and mix up the other ingredients at home, then put it on the grill when I get there. I was really pleased that we ran out of chili and cornbread around the same time.”
That time was around 3 p.m., which was when other competitors started running out of chili, too. Judging began at 4 p.m.
Sprinkel, who won the cook-off in previous years, said he was pleased with his entry this year.
“Overall, the chili cook-off was a successful event where the faculty, staff, families and community all came together to celebrate a sense of community and achievement,” Hickey said. “FPCA has always been a strong advocate of community involvement. FPCA relies heavily on our local supporters and is proud to promote local sponsors and community members. Fabulous food, great entertainment and lots of fun made the seventh annual Hinesville Chili Cook-Off another memorable event.”