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Warming up to ch-ch-chili

Frostburg business knows its stuff, takes top prizes in Hancock cook-off

Frostburg business knows its stuff, takes top prizes in Hancock cook-off

May 21, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

HANCOCK - Big Country of Frostburg, Md., took the top three prizes Saturday at the fourth annual Chili Bowl Cook-Off at Widmeyer Park.

Big Country took first place in the No-bean Chili category and second place in the Chili with Bean category. They also won the highest score category.

Kim and Todd Sloane, owners of Big Country, are used to winning. They were the 2005 Mountain City District champions in Frostburg.

Kim Sloane said they have been making contest chili for two years.

"This is mom's traditional chili recipe with a few modern twists," Kim Sloane said.

Sloane said the International Chili Society rule is there are to be no beans in the chili. During the Depression, beans were added to stretch it, she said.

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"The true chili has no beans and a red sauce," she said.

While the chili still was cooking, Sloane said, "It feels like we've made a good batch of chili this year."

This is the first year the cook-off is a stand-alone event, Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said. In the past, it was part of the Hancock Winter Festival.

More than 150 people came to the event to watch the contests and listen to music.

"We have a pretty good turnout today," Murphy said.

Five chili outdoor cookeries with seven entries competed in the Tri-State-area contest. As part of the International Chili Society rules, the chili must be prepared and cooked on site, and the winner will participate in the Mountain City Chili Cook-off on July 1 in Frostburg, said Dave Hott, the event organizer and board member of the Tri-State Re-Use Center and Hancock Arts Council.

"This is another good example of finding the value of a small community," Murphy said. "This is a nice little event that we hope will grow into a more significant one."

The chili cook-off event raises money through the chili sales, he said.

Sponsored by the Tri-State Re-Use Center in Hancock, the funds are used to buy the chili cook-off trophies and for the cash prizes, and will pay for the entrance fee for the Hancock winner to compete in Frostburg, said Hope Cucina-Hargett, director of the center. Last year, about $1,200 was raised, she said.

The Tri-State Re-Use Center is a recycling and reuse center that accepts new and used building materials such as lumber, concrete blocks, sinks, toilets, tubs and tools, Cucina-Hargett said. The center collects a small handling fee for the purchase of the reuse items.

"This is the first year the center is self-supporting," she said. "We no longer need to rely on grants."

The handling fee is about 10 percent to 25 percent of the retail cost of the items sold, and the money earned pays for the center's small forklift and its upkeep, Cucina-Hargett said.

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