NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A little healthy competition was stirred up in deep East Texas on Saturday. The Lilbert-Looneyville volunteer fire department hosted their first ever chili cook-off.
"It's cold, its chili season," Shane Johnson, a representative for Lilbert-Looneyville VFD said.
It's been a cold wintry day in East Texas, but a local fire department warmed things up.
"This is the right time for chili, Bobby Handler, a member of team 'Handler Heat' said. "It's cold outside."
"The colder weather definitely puts me in the mood for chili," Kade Wheeler, an attendee said.
Since the Lilbert- Looneyville volunteer fire department is currently operating out of a small community building they thought it was time for an upgrade.
"We want to build a new and improved building so it accesses the needs of our community a little better," Johnson said.
So what better way to have a fundraiser than one that involves some friendly and not so friendly competition.
"We just cook for fun, but we'd like to win," Toby Self, a contestant said.
"Get back because the winners are right here," Virginia Noble, a member of Animal Science Products 'Down on the Farm' said.
"There is some comradery and rivalry going on out there," Johnson said. "Along with some teasing, going back and forth. Secret ingredients and things like that being joked about."
Each group competing is stirring up their best pot of chili for the judges.
"I think we've got it in the bag," Handler said. "We've got our secret recipe, I think we're good."
"Our secret is we got Mary on this team and Claudenn on this team," Kelly Daniel, a member of team 'Hot stuff' said. "That's our secret winning combination."
One group is hoping the force flows from the chili to the judge's taste buds.
"Our theme is Jedi chili, and may the taste be with you," Shane Smelley, a member of team 'Jedi chili' said.
Attendees all agree that each pot of chili has its own unique taste, leaving the judges with one tough decision to make.
"I think it's pretty close," Cindy Payne, an attendee said. "Everything is so good. It's just little nuances of each one that makes it that much special and that different, so it's really tight."
"It's going to be a close call with the judges, I don't know who they are, but whoever they are, it's going to be real close," Venson James, an attendee said.
"I think it's going to be pretty tight," Piper Adkins, an attendee said.
However, no matter who walks out with bragging rights, all contestants agree, it's a small competition for a bigger cause.
"We live in the community in that area so we want to help," Self said.
"This is our way to support them and support the community," Frank Ronzello, a member of team 'Pine nuts' said.
"It's a great feeling to know that they support us and want to help us out with what we're doing," Johnson said.
Here is a complete list of winners.
1st Place - Animal Science Products "Down On The Farm"
2nd Place - Nibco
3rd Place - Swift-Shady Grove Fire Department
1st Place - Lilbert-Looneyville Fire Department
2nd Place - Jedi Chili
3rd Place - Town & Country Cookers
1st Place - Town & Country Cookers
2nd Place - Swift-Shady Grove Fire Department
3rd Place - Pine Nuts