United Way seeks competitors for St. Croix's Chili Cook Off


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ST. CROIX - One of the island's hottest fundraisers is only about three weeks away, and organizers hope the community will come out in force to make this year's St. Croix Chili Cook Off a success.

Anita Davila, United Way of St. Croix president, said the event is in its 13th year, and now is the time for teams to start signing up as the competition continues to grow. It has become the organization's biggest fundraiser, bringing in funds for a number of non-profits that are supported by the event.

As it has been for the last 12 years, the cook-off will take place at 11 a.m. Aug. 3 at Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort and is expected to draw a dynamic crowd of supporters from all walks of life.

Davila said prizes will be awarded to the top chili cooks and top vegetarian chili cooks; and prizes for "showmanship" also will be awarded for the top three most attractive entries.

"There is a chance to win for everyone, so we want to encourage individuals, restaurants or anyone else who thinks they can cook a good pot of chili to come out and be a part of this to make it a great event," she said.

Davila said one winner will be chosen to represent St. Croix at the national chili cook-off in Terlingua, Texas, with airfare, RV rental and the entrance fee included.

Over the years, the cook-off consistently has given residents and businesses a chance to help the United Way and its member organizations while they have a good time cooking or eating great chili, Davila said.

"This is a great event for a great cause, and we want people to come out to the event, enjoy the beach and the great food and music we will have while they support us," she said.

Davila said Divi Carina Bay Hotel also has a discounted rate for residents who want to spend the night or weekend at the hotel.

The team entry fee is $35, which guarantees a 10-foot square spot on the beach that teams can decorate any way they want to lure in the crowd to sample their chili. Each team gets a case of Coors Light Beer and other gifts from sponsors.

Last year's winner in the various categories are encouraged and expected to come back to defend their titles, Davila said.

All chili being judged must be cooked on the beach, and ingredients will be inspected before cooking, she said. Chili can be cooked with meat, turkey, pork, chicken or fish.

Chili being served to the public can be cooked ahead of the competition.

In addition to the gallons of chili that will be available for sampling, other food will include hot dogs, burgers, chicken and drinks for sale.

Davila said in addition to making a plea for chili experts to come out to be a part of the event, the organization also is seeking sponsors and donations and volunteers to work throughout the day as judges, bar attendants and to assist with T-shirt and ticket sales.

Entertainment during the event will include mechanical bull riding and live music provided by a number of bands, which will be entertaining the crowd until 9 p.m.

For more information about entering or volunteering, call 718-1780, 513-8359 or 718-0582 or send an email to unitedwayofstcroix@ msn.com.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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