CLAYTON TWP. — The Swartz Creek Area Firefighters Inc. aren’t going to let COVID stop them from sponsoring their 4th annual Chili Cookoff.
Entries are now being accepted for the event that takes place at noon Saturday, Feb. 20, at American Legion Post 294, 3440 Morrish Road.
In addition to an array of chilis, Brew 41 will be back by popular demand. Tenacity Brewing created Brew 41, a blond ale with some ingredients not commonly found in microbrews, special for the Swartz Creek Area Firefighters and the chili cookoff.
The entry fee is $10, and contestants must bring an electric roaster full of chili. This year, participants also must bring a card table so the contestants can be spaced at least six feet apart.
As in previous years, the public will judge the cookoff, and the contestants never disappoint the crowd. Past cookoffs have featured some outstanding entries with everything from secret blends of spices to chilis made with brisket, venison and buffalo.
Guests may purchase tokens to vote for their favorite concoctions. Tokens cost $1 each, $5 for six, $10 for 15 or $20 for 30. Taste-testers may vote as many times as they wish.
Top vote-getters will receive trophies, plus $300 for first place, $200 for second, and $100 for third.
Event organizers also are working on putting together a panel of judges who will award the judges’ choice honor, which comes with a $400 prize.
“This has been a very popular event,” said organizer David Myers. “We hope, even with the whole COVID situation, we can get the same crowd to come in and be taste-testers.”
One thing that will be different this year is that the guests will walk through the hall to get their chili samples, then go outside where the firefighters will have tents and some sort of heating.
The sample cups will have the number of the chili written on them, and voting canisters with coordinating numbers will be set up outside.
Last year’s cookoff drew some 400 tasters and 19 contestants, and raised about $4,000 for the firefighters’ association, a nonprofit organization made up of Swartz Creek area firefighters. The association is separate from the fire department itself.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the firefighters’ scholarship fund, which provides scholarships to two graduating Swartz Creek High School seniors.