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Something for every taste bud at Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-Off

September 20, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- Chili - think of it as the race car of food. It looks harmless on the outside, but under the hood, it's a whole different story.

Just ask Rachel Myers, who attended the Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-Off and Music Festival on Saturday at Municipal Stadium.

Myers scooped up a spoonful of vegetarian chili only to be hit with a mouthful of heat.

"I wasn't expecting that," she said, trying to douse the fire with a glass of water. "It looked mild. Boy, was I wrong."

Whether it was spicy or sweet, bland or hot, there was something for every taste bud at this year's event.

"That's why people come out," said Joel Pagliaro, the Suns' director of special events. "It's a lot of fun trying all the different recipes."

Twenty-six teams participated in this year's festival, Pagliaro said, "and all think they have the best chili around."

But it was up to a panel of judges to make that decision. Taking first place was Tom Remavege with his Uh-huh Chili, with Red Lion Spicy Foods Co. taking second place and Hagerstown Magazine placing third.

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Bulls and Bears restaurant, with chef Steve Kemmet, won the People's Choice Award, while Mid-State Financial's Lone Arrangers won the best booth display.

Pagliaro said the festival is a charity event that began five years ago. Over the years, about $75,000 has been raised for area organizations. Last year's event raised about $17,500 for The Maryland Theatre.

This year's beneficiary is MIHI's Project Lifesaver, a public safety nonprofit program that uses rapid-response technology to find missing persons with Alzheimer's disease and other related brain disorders.

Pagliaro said organizers were expecting about 2,500 people to attend the event.

A fun aspect of the competition were the teams' unique names - from Hobo Junction to Bipartisan Chili.

Attracting a large crowd was the Super Bowl of Chili, a team headed by Pittsburgh Steelers fan Bryan Davis of Hagerstown.

Davis' stall was packed with black and gold pennants, player photographs, flags and a Terrible Towel.

Even Davis was decked out in Steelers attire, including a James Farrior jersey and a Steelers chef's hat and apron.

"People have definitely noticed us," he said. "Especially if you're a Steelers fan."

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