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Suns Chili Cook-Off has something for every taste

October 03, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- There was chili with jalapenos, chili with cayenne, and chili with cumin and tabasco sauce.

Great bowls of fire were being served up Saturday afternoon at Municipal Stadium.

And, for some taste-testers, the hotter the better.

But not everyone was looking for heat during the Hagerstown Suns Chili Cook-Off and Music Festival.

Just ask Tom Remavege of Hagerstown, whose team "Uh-huh Chili" took back-to-back top prizes in 2007 and 2008.

"I think it's a winner because the taste pleases everyone," he said. "It's not too hot. It's just right. It's socially acceptable chili."

"That's the great thing about this cook-off," said Reed Hunley, promotions and special events director for the Suns. "Hot, mild, seafood, meat -- there's something for everyone. We're open to all varieties. If you call it chili, we call it chili."

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Sixteen teams participated in this year's festival, Hunley said, and all were competitive.

"Most teams were out here at 5 a.m. making sure their chili was just right," he said. "They all want to win."

But it was up to a panel of judges, including former NFL player Jean Fugett Jr., to make that decision.

Hunley said the festival is a charity event that began six years ago. Since the first cook-off, more than $85,000 has been raised for area organizations. Last year's event raised about $10,000 for MIHI's Project Lifesaver.Ă‚ This year's beneficiary is the American Red Cross of Washington County.

Hunley said organizers were expecting about 2,000 people to attend the event.

"Hats off to the Hagerstown Suns," said Tom Riford of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, one of the festivalĂ‚ sponsors. "This is a great way to give back to the community. It's also a terrific opportunity to hear music, enjoy chili, and at the same time, raise money for Red Cross."

Sharon Keynes of Hagerstown said she has attended the Chili Cook-off since its inception and marks the date on her calendar.

"It's a fun event," she said. "I like walking around to the different booths and sampling all of the recipes."

Keynes said she doesn't like her chili too hot, but her boyfriend is the opposite.

"He believes that if you can't add a hot pepper, it's not a food," she said.

Winners at Saturday's Hagerstown Suns Annual Chili Cook-off and Music Festival

People's Choice Award: The Super Bowl of Chili, with head chef Bryan Davis

Best Booth Award: Petunia's Chili, Jennifer Thomas

Best Chili: 1st place -- Team West Virginia, Curtis Smith; 2nd place -- Little Heiskell Ski Club, Jack Klein; 3rd place -- Cellby's Chili Champions, Brian Dunn

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