A total of 10 participants took part in the first annual chili cook-off. First prize in the event went to the team of Ryan Rogers and nephews Hayden and Mason McCluskey for their "Fatman Chili." David Cagle received second place for his spicy chili. Jeff Douglas, representing the Rector Police Department, won third place. The competition also included tasty entries from Nate Henderson, Dianna Pearson, Robert Stokes, Brad Green and Jerry Mansfield of the City of Rector Street Department, the American Legion of Piggott, Julie Bauschlicher and Michelle Hartsfield, whose "Country Girl Chili" table decorations drew much fanfare.
The entries were judged by Sherland Hamilton, Benny Isom and Ken Roden. The judging was done via blind tasting, with the judges unaware of which chili was prepared by each entrant.
Following the meal and the contest judging, those in attendance were able to sample the chili entries, with all participants receiving numerous compliments.
"I was pretty surprised," Rogers said of the contest results. "I'm glad the judges liked it and that I was able to do this with my nephews. Everyone involved did an outstanding job. I thought all the chili here tonight was very good. I would've enjoyed myself even if I wasn't involved in the contest. This was a great idea for the community center."
Rogers noted he didn't have a secret recipe, but added brown sugar to his traditional chili for a sweet taste.
The event was made possible through the efforts of the community center committee and volunteers, including center director Linda Robinson, Kenneth and Alma Webb, Clarence and Jane Huffman, Doran and Martha Thompson, Christa Hedrick, Jessie Malin, Susie McCarroll, Sarah Pruett, Robert Plante, Kim Romine, Marvin and Jane Gatewood, Janet Manchester, Eva Mae Clarday and Charles Faught.
The committee would like to thank sponsors Jacqueline Blount, Carl and Melba Bradberry, C. Joseph Calvin, Sheila Dale Agency, DeMent Machine Tool Inc., Dollar General, Flash Market Inc., Genny's Kitchen, Glen Sain Motor Sales, Harps Food Stores, Liberty Bank, Ed Long, Mosley Auto Parts, Rector Barber and Style, Rector Downtown Drug, Subway, Two Frenz and Wilson Outdoors.
The evening was the latest in an ongoing effort to bring more events to the Rector Community Center. The next featured event will be a concert featuring Chad Garrett and friends beginning at 7 p.m. Feb. 16. The concert will also feature Ken Wadley on keyboard and Rector's own Lindsey Ford performing. Tickets are available at $7 each for adults and $3 for children ages 10 and under.