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United Way kicks-off campaign with 10th annual Chili Cook-Off

Get your taste buds ready. The United Way is again jump-starting its yearly campaign with the 10th annual Chili Cook-Off on Thursday in Leif Erikson Park.

Get your taste buds ready. The United Way is again jump-starting its yearly campaign with the 10th annual Chili Cook-Off on Thursday in Leif Erikson Park.
From 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., chili lovers will have a chance to taste up to 40 chili recipes, from hot-hot-hot to mild to everything in between.
"It's an event that started small and got really big," said Christa Knudsen, marketing and communications manager for United Way.
The event began 10 years ago with just a handful of nonprofits participating. Now, both nonprofits and businesses show off their chili-making skills, and more than 1,000 are expected to attend.
As popular as the event is, however, it barely puts a dent in the United Way's goal of raising $2.1 million by Nov. 16.
"It really doesn't make much," Knudsen said about the event. "It's more about community awareness-building. It's not our biggest fund-raiser, but more of the campaign kick-off event."
Every year the United Way launches an ambitious three-month long campaign that involves 36 agencies and hundreds of volunteers. The campaign includes three major events: the Chili Cook-Off, the United Way Kick Start Ride Rally and Extravaganza, which is on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Mr. D's Bar and Grill, and the Wine Tasting and Auction Benefit in November.
The Chili Cook-Off may not raise a lot of money for the campaign, but it brings the community together for a good time.
All competitors are local, and each has a certain way of serving or garnishing his or her prized chili.
"People are really specific about how they want you to try their chili," Knudsen said.
The event has 38 entries so far competing in two divisions, professional and amateur. Categories include Hottest Yet Edible, Most Unusual, Vegetarian, Classic and Best Overall, along with a Spicy Spirit Award and a People's Choice Award.
Judges include six members of the Arrowhead Professional Chefs Association and three celebrity judges, including Police Chief Scott Lyons, WDIO's Pamela Fish and the RipSaw News' local restaurant reviewer Mary Tennis.
Judging is based on taste, appearance, texture, aroma, ingredients and heat intensity, to name a few. To keep their taste buds fresh for each mouthful of chili, judges are supplied with water, milk and crackers to cleanse their palates.
Great Harvest bread, ice cream, chips and beverages will be available to those who attend for sampling.
"It's such a blast to try all those chilis," Knudsen said. "I tried as many as I could last year."
NEWS TO USE
What: United Way's Chili Cook-Off
When: Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Leif Erikson Park
How much: A suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for children and $13 for families at the door.

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