Hot weather doesn’t stop chili cook-off contestantsFirst-timers win top slot for annual rodeo event.
By: Frannie Sprouls, The Daily Republic
Three guys stood around the campfire, their orange T-shirts glaring in the heat of the day.
“We’re the best looking cooks out here,” said Joel Franks, of Mitchell and member of Pheasants Forever. The other two men, Dave Allen and Al Hyatt, joined him in laughing. The men were at the Horseman’s Sports Area since 5:30 a.m., enduring 90-degree heat Sunday to reserve their spot for the annual chili cook-off. Only 14 camps competed in this year’s cook-off, according to Wade Greenwood, member of the 2012 Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Committee and coordinator of the event.
In years past, the cook-off has seen more than 20 camps competing. The men at Pheasants Forever remember some years having close to 30 participants.
Many of the camps this year have competed for years. The Pheasants Forever camp has participated for seven years.
Some of the men at the Trail King Camp have been making chili for close to 20 years.
“It’s not too bad this year,” said Dan Pollard, employee for Trail King. “It’s been 115 degrees before.”
The Trail King camp has never won the cook-off in the years they’ve competed – they just do it for fun and don’t care if they win.
This year, Trail King brought a new addition to their camp: a kiddie pool.
The pool sat on a blue tarp, with sand scattered to make it seem like a beach. Four colorful beach balls floated in the water, along with a watermelon.
“It’s the closest thing we can get to The Beach Boys,” Pollard said. “Pool, water and sand.”
But veterans like the Trail King or Pheasants Forever camps weren’t the winners Sunday.
The prize went to J. Lynn Studios, who have never competed in the chili cook-off.
Before the judges tasted the chili, Joni Rasmussen of Mitchell said she thought their chili was going to be the competitor.
And less than two hours later, her prediction came true.
Rasmussen’s grandmother died, but had always participated with Fulton State Bank at the cook-off each year.
“We felt like we should keep it going,” Rasmussen said. “I’m sure she was with us today … probably laughing because it’s so hot.”
The second place winner was Cabela’s and third place was Hendrickson Turner. The people’s choice chili was Klock Werks. The best camp went to Trail King, with their mini-beach.
The winners were announced during the Country Music Showdown, which was hosted by 105.9 KMIT.
A total of eight performers sang two songs each to the chili-eating crowd, but there was only one winner – Hadley Moody and the Renegades.
Moody, of Letcher, formed the Renegades two years ago but had competed in the showdown three or four times as a solo act.
“I thought I’d bring a band (this year),” Moody said. “I feel more comfortable playing with a (live) band.”
He wasn’t sure he was going to win the first place cash prize of $150 and a spot at the 2012 Texaco Showdown in Beach, N.D., on Aug. 3.
“I wanted to come with an original song, but we just hadn’t worked it out yet,” Moody said. “I didn’t think cover music would work.”
But Moody will be on the road to North Dakota next week, hopefully with an original song to perform.
“It’s back to the drawing board,” Moody said with a laugh.
Haley Zimmerer of Verdigre, Neb., won second place and the cash prize of $75, and Shane Hauger of Scotland won third place and the cash prize of $50.