Senior Connection spicing things up with Chili Cook Off

Published 4:04 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

The annual Chili Cook Off and Health Fair at Senior Connection is just around the corner for those chili-crazed community members in Chilton County. On Feb. 4 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Senior Connection will host the Chili Cook Off and feature tasty bowls from various local chefs.

Anyone in the community is invited to attend, and admission is $5. Everyone who attends will receive cups to go around and taste all the different styles of chili.

All of the money raised throughout the cookoff goes to help fund Senior Connection.

“(The Chili Cook Off) is a fundraiser to help keep Senior Connection going and to invite the community in to let them know what we do and how things run,” Vanessa McKinney, director of Senior Connection, said.

The event has brought in a crowd of around 150 people in past years to try the best chili recipes in Chilton County. Ten to 15 different types of chili have been present at the event the last few years.

“It is some really good chili,” McKinney said. “We are really looking for some competitors and vendors to come in from the health community.”

The hospital in Clanton used to have a health fair to show the members of the community the health benefits that are offered in Chilton County, if they were to need them. That is where the health fair portion of the Chili Cook Off came about.

The Chili Cook Off has been a staple event on the Senior Connection calendar since it opened its doors, and the growth of the event has been hard to miss. When it first started, the only plugs in the building were in the kitchen so all the crockpots full of chili were confined to a small place. Now, Senior Connection has been able to remodel and add plugs all around their building to better accommodate events such as the cookoff, all because of the fundraising efforts of Senior Connection, and the community support it receives.

“We appreciate everyone’s continued support of Senior Connection,” McKinney said. “They are the ones that support Senior Connection all of the time, and we appreciate it.”

The judges tasting the chili to crown a winner are Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon, Clanton Chief of Police Erick Smitherman and Johnny Beutler.

There will be a DJ present throughout the event to keep the good times going throughout.

“The best part (about this event) is seeing the community come together,” McKinney said. “It is great seeing everyone come together whether you are young, old, it is just a great time every year.”

It is $25 to enter the Chili Cook Off, and $25 for a health fair booth as well. Those interested in competing in the cookoff or to be a part of the health fair can contact McKinney at 205-217-1328 to register.