Ryan Rogers Memorial Chili Cook-Off a Big Success
A large crowd began to stream into the Rector Community Center beginning well before 6:00, Saturday evening. Those attending eagerly paid their entry of $5 per person, anticipating delicious chili, soup and jambalaya. And, to no one's surprise they were not disappointed-and neither was the Community Center Committee who organized the event to raise funds for ongoing improvements.
A few minutes after 6, this year's event chair, Marvin Gatewood, announced the winners and thanked the six judges. The group of judges, which included Kenny Burns, Todd Watson, Allen Haywood, Stephen Speer, Rob Louder and Ron Kemp had begun the task of tasting at 5:00, and judged in a blind taste test to determine first, second and third places for each division.
In the chili division first place was won by Farron Young, second place went to David Cagle and Megan Young took third. In the jambalaya category Tom Colbert was awarded first place, Nate Henderson earned second place and Abie Rogers came in at third place. And, in the soup division Christy Beasley took first place, Jessie Petty claimed second place and David Cagle took third place.
The crowd, which included nearly 150 diners, showed their enthusiasm by thronging to the contestants who were positioned near the stage area of the center. The diners arranged tiny cups filled with tastes of soup, jambalaya and chili on trays, being sure to sample as many of the entries as possible. At the center of the floor there were also two tables of condiments and trimmings such as sour cream, cheese, and corn chips.
In addition, the Community Center Committee furnished two large vats of "house chili," a crock pot of potato soup and a table of desserts which seemed to go on for miles.
The offerings of the contestants in each of the categories were enjoyed as diners went back for refills. The dessert table was also a popular place and only crumbs remained at the conclusion of the evening. Bottled water and soft drinks, plus coffee, to accompany the desserts rounded out the night's culinary treats.
Organizers noted the people who continued to come through the line commented on how delicious the food was and seemed excited about the opportunity to vote for People's Choice.
All tickets were stamped at the door and patrons wrote on the ticket the contestant's number whose entry they deemed was most delicious to their palate. Patrons were also reminded the voting would end at 7 p.m. so the ballots could be tabulated.
"Such a popular event can only grow when neighbors share that they had a great time and enjoyed delicious food, all for a great cause, and participated by voting for People's Choice," a spokesman noted.
The new category was won by Kim Isom for her tasty chili. Isom had brought two crock pots full of her recipe to the competition and went home with no chili, but a trophy and prize money.
By the time pictures were made of the winners with trophies and prize money, those attended enjoyed visiting with one another, moving from table to table visiting with friends and neighbors. Among the diners were the family of Ryan Rogers, the first winner and the man for which the event is now named. Family members also made a very nice donation to the event in honor and memory of Ryan.
The Ryan Rogers Memorial Chili Cook-Off trophy will now include the names Farron Young, Christy Beasley, and Tom Colbert for the 2016 contest. Organizers also note next year's event will be held on the last Saturday of February. "So mark your calendars for a community event like no other--remembering Ryan Rogers and contributing to the Rector Community Center's ongoing improvement projects," an event spokesman added.