Togas, gators and more at the Chili Challenge

By Brenda Sullivan - ReminderNews
Windsor - posted Thu., Oct. 13, 2011
The Windsor Chili Challenge and Canoe Race was a fun family outing for Jonna and Bill Hallum, with their son Jack, and friend Cait McGaughy. Photos by Brenda Sullivan.
The Windsor Chili Challenge and Canoe Race was a fun family outing for Jonna and Bill Hallum, with their son Jack, and friend Cait McGaughy. Photos by Brenda Sullivan.

Dozens of chili chefs served up this hearty, spicy favorite at the 16th annual Windsor Chamber of Commerce Chili Challenge held on the Town Green Oct. 8.

Lori Hartmann, the official “empress” of the Chili Challenge, which supports the chamber’s community events, has been one of the organizers since its beginning. Her only complaint about the day was that some of the booths ran out of chili halfway into the festival. “We need more chili cooks next year,” she said. By the last hour of the festival, Hartmann estimated at least 10,000 cups of chili had been handed out.

Besides sampling the different concoctions, visitors toured crafts booths, talked with local political candidates and learned more about organizations such as the Vintage Radio and Communication Museum of Connecticut.

The new pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, John Gerlach, and his wife Joan enjoyed talking about a portable Victrola with the museum’s director, John Ellsworth. “This was the original boombox,” Ellsworth quipped.

Maureen Rattray, who came to the event with her children, Arielle and Theon, gave the chili recipes a thumbs-up. “I’m not a pepper person, but I liked it – it was very flavorful - but really, we came for the funnel cake,” she said, and laughed.

The array of decorating themes for this year’s booths included Randy’s Swamp Gas Chili sponsored by Gaylord Hospital and created by Randy Whalen that included mosquito netting and a life-size plastic alligator; a ’50s diner dubbed Big Daddy’s from Windsor Rehabilitation and Health Center that also included a singer belting out ’50s favorites; and the first-place winner, from D’Aleo Designs, with an ancient Rome theme they called “Toga-ther Chili.”

The event also included a “canoe race.” There was no waterway involved in this race. Instead, canoes were filled with food items to be donated to the town’s food pantry. The winner was the group to collect the most donations, in both food and cash.

Taking home top honors in this event were the Town of Windsor employees, who collected 810 pounds of food and $3,555 in donations. In second place was the Kiwanis Club (including the youth Key Club members) with 898 pounds of food and $835 in donations. Third place went to the Rotary Club for 206 pounds of food and $500 in donations.

In the People’s Choice awards for best-tasting chili, first place went to Villari’s Martial Arts Center. Second place was awarded to a group of friends calling themselves Windsor Mad Scientists. Windsor Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center took home third place.

In the blind-tasting judging for best chili, first place went to Windsor Volunteer Ambulance. They also received a “Corny Award” for the cornbread. Windsor Rehab picked up second, and Carmon Funeral Home won third. The Walgreen’s team received an honorable mention.

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