Jeannie Connely Skolil, chairperson of Slyâ€™s Annual Chili Cook-Off & Auction, congratulates the winner of the chili cook-off, Chris Votaw.
A large host of auction items - 49 crock pots of chili - generous bidders - dedicated sponsors. All of these elements came together Saturday night at Sylvesterâ€™s Bar, and when the night was over, $16, 534.34 was raised for two community organizations.
This was the seventh year for the fundraising event, which organizers Jeannie Connely Skolil and Sylvesterâ€™s owner Fred Schumacher say started as just a random idea. Each year the public is invited to enter their favorite chili recipe to be judged by a panel of community volunteers.
This year, 49 pots of chili were entered in the contest, with Chris Votaw crowned champion. Second place went to Don Olson, while Sheila Applegarth took third.
Each year, Slyâ€™s staff chooses a charitable organization to donate the proceeds of the event to. This year they chose two recipients - the Broken Bow Library Book Giveaway, and Healing Hearts & Families. The more than $16,500 raised at the event will be split equally between the two entities.
Raffle tickets were sold for two large items; a riding lawn mower and a $500 gas card. Winner of the riding lawn mower was Russ Arnold, and Cheryl Beckenhauer won the gas card, which was donated to the event by Stan Dougherty - who won the card in a recent KCNI/KBBN promotion.
Throughout its seven years, the fundraising event has grown by leaps and bounds. The first year had 20 chilies entered in the competition, and the event raised $6,000. The 49 chilies entered this year exceeds last yearâ€™s number by 10. Last yearâ€™s event raised just over $10,000 - so you can see how much it grows each year!
Fred and Jeannie say it has always been the goal of the fundraiser to keep the money local, and to focus on kids and people in need. The two charities chosen this year meet both of those criteria.
Fred has been the owner/operator of Sylvester's since November 1989. He says he is grateful for the opportunity to be able to give back to the community that has supported his business for so many years.
Jeannie also wanted to thank all of those who donate items for the auction. She says it truly is a community effort to make this fundraiser such a success each year.
Folks come early to sample the chili, and stay late to bid on items. You can always count on a packed house at the chili cook-off and auction, and you can always count on having lots of fun while benefitting someone else.