Not too chilly for chili

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last year’s Suffolk Chili Fest brought nearly 1,800 attendees to Bennett’s Creek Park to sample and vote on chili from 18 different teams.

It will be a chili showdown in Suffolk during the next two weekends, as two different chili cook-offs raise money for worthwhile organizations.

The first, which happens this Saturday, will be held at Magnolia United Methodist Church as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity and World Vision. The second, a week later, is sponsored by the Bennett’s Creek SERTOMA Club and raises money for the club’s service projects for children with hearing and speech impairments.

“They do this because they want to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Linda Stroud of the church youth group. About two dozen young people from Magnolia United Methodist Church and Beech Grove United Methodist Church, as well as some that don’t have a home church or attend churches that don’t have youth groups, are sponsoring the chili and barbecue cook-off at Magnolia.

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Habitat for Humanity builds low-cost homes for people who otherwise could not afford to purchase a home.

“World Vision feeds hungry people around the globe,” Stroud said.

The youth group feels that “we are called to take care of those that God puts in our path,” Stroud said. “They want to take care of people that don’t have what they have.”

The chili and barbecue cook-off will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Magnolia United Methodist Church, 1764 Wilroy Road. Entry is $10 per person or $25 per family. Each ticket entitles you to sample and vote on up to 10 chili entries and 10 barbecue entries. Cole slaw and baked beans are included, and baked goods will be for sale.

Only a week after that event, the Bennett’s Creek SERTOMA Club will host its fourth annual Suffolk Chili Fest, an International Chili Society-sanctioned event. Formed in 1912 to sponsor children with hearing and speech impairments, SERTOMA stands for “SERvice TO MAnkind.”

The local club also has a golf fundraiser in the fall, but came up with the idea for the chili fest to supplement its fundraising efforts.

“It’s been one of those things that’s grown every year,” said George Fischer, a member of the club.

Last year’s event featured 18 teams and nearly 1,800 attendees. The event also includes a cornhole tournament, children’s games and activities, a jalapeno-eating contest, live entertainment by More Cowbell, vendors and more. Besides sampling and voting on chili entries, ticket holders also can purchase bowls of chili as well as hotdogs, sausage and cold drinks.

Last year, the club donated more than $9,000 to Suffolk Public Schools to help pay for services for children with speech and hearing impairments, Fischer said.

“The reasons they should come out are twofold,” he said. “One, to have a good time, and the second is to help us sponsor those kids that are in need of speech therapy or some sort of hearing aids.”

Attendees at the chili fest can vote for the people’s choice chili. Other awards that will be handed out include prizes for red chili, following International Chili Society rules; the “Suffolk Service Cup,” an award just for fire, police and rescue departments; best booth; and best showmanship.

The event will be held April 2 from noon to 5 p.m. at Bennett’s Creek Park, 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. Advance tickets are $5 per person or $10 per family. Tickets cost $10 per person the day of the event.

For more information, call 285-6843 or 538-2153 for a member of the SERTOMA Club, or 514-7267 for the Department of Parks and Recreation. You can also visit

Tickets can be purchased at these locations:

  • SuffolkFirst Bank, 3535 Bridge Road or 1000 N. Main St.
  • Walgreens, 3633 Bridge Road
  • A Tisket, A Tasket, 1897 Governors Pointe Drive
  • Arthur’s General Store, 3118 King’s Highway