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Rotary chili cook off raises $27K for kids

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POLSON – Lots of folks were chillin’ on Saturday at Riverside Park. So much so that the Rotary Club of Polson’s 11th annual Festival of Youth Chili Cook Off raised a record $27,000. 

For $3, a person could sample each of 13 chilies that were prepared by various local organizations. 

A team of eight from St. Joseph’s Medical Center used a staff-created recipe of chipotle, grass-fed beef, bacon and black beans and a secret ingredient to win the overall prize, which was chosen by a group of 12 judges. The team also took second in the People’s Choice category. 

The Red Hot Chili Mamas won the People’s Choice award and placed third overall with Dorothy Ashcraft’s recipe of chili verde with pork and white beans. In addition to Ashcraft, the Mamas included Jeanette Phillips, Bea Cottington, Vicki Lucas and their token male, Bill Boettcher. 

Glacier Bank placed second overall with Bill Barrett’s recipe of New Mexico Green Hatch Chiles, pork, tomatillos, hominy, garlic and onions. Glacier Bank’s crew roasted the chiles on site prior to the event, he said. 

Polson Police finished third in the People’s Choice category to complete the scoring.

Most of the funds raised were through a raffle that included items donated by various local organizations, including Glacier Bank, Duckworth Law Office, Super One Foods, Cenex, Open 8 Genetics, Ken Cook and Polson Bay Golf Course. 

The funds will go toward the Mission Valley Aquatic Center, $12,500; Montana Council of Boy Scouts Silvertip District, $5,000; and Linderman Elementary’s summer mentoring program, $2,500. 

Sharon Fulton, a past club president who served in 2004-05, noted the chili cook-off began in 2006 and is the club’s signature event.

Rotary Club President Larry Peltz said that most of the competitors ran out of chili after an hour. Those who won had plenty to go around, however.

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