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Chili cook-off a fiery competition

Suns host third annual contest

Suns host third annual contest

September 24, 2006|by DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN - What ingredients go into a great bowl of chili are a matter of individual taste, but the fiery concoctions served up Saturday at Municipal Stadium were varied enough to satisfy any palate, and went down a little easier with a dollop of rock music and a cup of cold beer.

The third annual Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-Off & Music Festival drew hundreds of chili aficionados and music fans to test the recipes of 27 teams vying for the $1,000 top prize, Hagerstown Suns General Manager Will Smith said.

There was Voodoo Chili, Pirates of the Chili-bbean and Whistling Butt Chili cooked up by teams such as Pumpkin and Honeybun, Big Bob and Gary C, and Just Chili-N. Pots steamed with beef, pork, chicken and even seafood chili.

The People's Choice Award last year went to the Chili Cowboys, a group of Hagerstown men who adorned their stand on Saturday with that trophy and smaller ones declaring theirs the best from competitions in San Antonio, El Paso, Phoenix and Mexico City.

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"The smaller ones were a joke on our wives," Larry Bayer confessed.

The recipes of some chefs were closely guarded secrets, but Mike Frevert of the Last Saturday Club said his team's chili included "a little bit of chocolate."

"It's a bright and moody chili," he promised as he handed over a cup. "You'll be tantalized."

"There's a smokiness to it," William Bosch of Hagerstown said as he dissected the flavors in a sample from TNT Tailgatin' Time. He also could detect a hint of chocolate, "but it's got some heat to it."

Pumpkin and Honeybun, aka Rob and Pam Rubisch of Hagerstown, served up chili with a pirate theme, including a peg-legged mannequin borrowed from a party supplies store.

"Need a sample there, matey?" Rob Rubisch asked a customer.

Both the chili and the booths were judged by a panel that included Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, state Del. Christopher B. Shank, Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Brandon Younger of Younger Toyota, the presenting sponsor for the festival.

Best Overall Chili went to the Shock & Awe Crew led by Staff Sgt. Amy Fasulo of the Maryland Army National Guard.

"What makes ours special? The love we put into it," Pvt. Charles Morrison said.

Brown sugar, honey, cured bacon and Guinness beer were among the special ingredients divulged by Spc. Michael Fitzgerald.

If Shock & Awe did not have the best booth, it had the most expensive, setting up a $100,000 containerized kitchen trailer capable of feeding 600 soldiers three squares a day.

Best Booth went to the Hagerstown Magazine Chili Cheerleaders. Hagerstown Magazine was a repeat winner, having captured the prize in 2005.

Antietam Cafe & Wine Bar was the People's Choice winner by a vote of those attending the festival.

Doug Martin of Chambersburg, Pa., said he came for both the chili and the music.

"Complete Circle is the best local band," he said of the Fayetteville, Pa., group. They shared the stage with Ledbetter Heights, The Freddie Long Band, Ivy Rowe and The Blue Sky Traffic.

Proceeds from the festival benefit the Walnut Street Community Health Center and the Community Free Clinic, Smith said.

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