Carter wins Senior Connection Chili Cook Off

Published 1:03 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Senior Connection held its annual Chili Cook Off on Feb. 4 that saw Jennifer Carter take home first place with her pinto bean chili. Carter’s chili consisted of ground beef, a bunch of different spices and pinto beans were her beans of choice to use.

“I was blown away by winning it,” Carter said. “It was an honor to be chosen.”

Carter said the chili recipe was one she came up with on the fly, and she had not cooked chili in about 15-20 years.

“I have been cooking taco soup because it was easier,” Carter said. “It was just awesome. It was not something I expected, I just got into it to help Senior Connection, and I won it. Senior Connection does a great job at providing events for those older individuals.”

Judges Chilton County Sheriff John Sherron, Clanton Chief of Police Erick Smitherman and Johnny Beutler were tasked with choosing the top three chilis from the 11 pots present. Visitors attending the event chose their favorite and a people’s choice winner was crowned as well.

Last year’s chili cook-off winner Gordon Swenson won the people’s choice category with his sausage and ground beef chili. Swenson also took home the third-place finisher in the judge’s category.

Pam and Ken Graham, who are also former top finishers in the chili cook off, place second in the judges’ category.

J.R. Tidwell emceed the event for Senior Connection and has been a key part to the entertainment in past years as well.

“I love coming to this event every year,” Tidwell said. “It’s a good excuse to drive down and see some folks I haven’t laid eyes on since I worked in Clanton years ago. In the past, I have been a judge, but this time Vanessa asked me to announce the whole thing. It was a blast.”

Overall, the chili cook-off in 2023 provided another chance for local chili makers to showcase their skills to the Chilton County community.

“I think it went great,” Senior Connection director Vanessa McKinney said. “We could have had a few more folks come in and taste some chili, but we appreciate everybody who did.”

Senior Connection held a health fair during the chili cook off as well that brought in local health care companies to show residents what medical care was out there locally in Chilton County.