Cookoff kickoff is set for 11 a.m. at Bradley Square Mall in the parking lot closest to Kmart. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life fundraiser will continue through 3 p.m.
Saturday’s festivities are hosted by the Cleveland Daily Banner RFL team.
The news of the day is that a sixth team has fanned the growing flames of chili carnage in Southeast Tennessee. Ironically, it is the team that was the first to give a verbal commitment, but later had to pull out when scheduling conflicts soured the stomachs, hopes and dreams of the organization’s A-Team.
But now, according to Stan Clark, public information officer for the Bradley County Emergency Medical Service, another has emerged, and they don’t consider themselves B-Teamers.
“We have a secret weapon that we have been holding in reserve that we are going to unleash Saturday,” Clark acknowledged while spilling the beans on their identities. “All other emergency services better bring their ‘A’ game.”
That’s because the newbies are a pair of paramedics who were born reportedly with wooden spoons in both hands. While not an altogether pleasant experience for the moms, it became a sign of destiny; at least, that’s Clark’s assessment.
“The EMS team that will be participating in the Chili Cookoff are two of our paramedics — Allie Eller and Jada Kersey,” the longtime lifesaver declared. “These young ladies are ready to serve up some great chili with no holds barred. Bradley County EMS is excited, and very honored, to be able to be included in this event and support the fight against cancer.”
Like a big pot of chili ready for serving, Clark bubbled, “It is going to be a lot of fun. We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the chili, entertainment and great fellowship.”
The late-game EMS confirmation adds a sixth team to the field of screams. Others whose pots, pans and recipes have been in the hopper for several days are Bradley County Fire & Rescue, Cleveland Fire Department, Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland Police Department and one out-of-county hopeful, the Hamilton County 911.
A bowl full of applications has been picked up for the Open Category and four confirmations have made it to the dotted line.
Deadline has come and gone for the Emergency Service Category signups, but because of the number of applications picked up for the Open Category, the Cookoff cutoff won’t come until 5 p.m. today. Any public team wanting to confirm can call Angela Mathis, ACS senior community representative, at 423-855-2778 or 284-8490, or they can send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In both Emergency Service and Open categories, Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice awards will be handed out. Emergency Service Category judges will be Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and First Lady Sandra, and Cleveland business and civic leaders Brenda and Stan Lawson.
Judges in the Open Category will be Ronnie Carroll, Mike Leamon and Dewayne Belew.
Jeff Rentfro of WOOP Radio will emcee the event.
A few additional ACS Relay For Life teams also will staff food booths offering up beverages, hotdogs, nachos and desserts.
Emergency Service Chili Cookoff sponsors include Check into Cash, BI-LO, Cleveland State Community College, The Plastic Surgery Clinic, Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth, Bank of Cleveland, Ocoee OB/GYN, Hometstead Lawn & Tractor, Hixson Transmission, Trophies Unlimited, Waste Connection and the Cleveland Daily Banner.
“The People’s Choice will be voted on from ballots picked up at the gate,” Mathis explained. “Each ballot is $5 in order to sample all the chili in the Emergency Service Category and the Open Category. The two categories will have separate ballots.”
Additional ballots may be purchased for a $5 donation to the American Cancer Society.
“The additional ballots can be used to go back through the line or just to vote on your favorite chili more than once,” Mathis stressed. “The winners of the People’s Choice will receive a cash prize, an award and bragging rights for having the best chili!”
Although no more entries are being accepted in the Emergency Service Category, public hopefuls are still welcome in the Open division.
“The Open Category is open to anyone who wants to make a minimum of 10 gallons of chili for the cookoff,” she said. “There is prize money to the first place winner in the Judge’s Choice and first place in the People’s Choice in both categories.”
With tongue in cheek, Mathis laughingly pointed to the importance of Saturday’s opportunity for anyone who has ever bragged about their chili, or a loved one’s or friend’s chili, to put their recipe where their mouth is ... so to speak.
“If there are any individuals, teams, restaurants and others out there who are looking to support the American Cancer Society, win some money and get some media exposure for their great chili, please give me a call as soon as possible,” she stressed.
The day won’t be all about chili. Plenty of live music will be enjoyed compliments of “One Shot Down” and “No One Special.” A limited number of Chili Cookoff T-shirts are being sold onsite Saturday, as well as at the Banner office this week. Price is $10 for sizes S-XL and $12 for 2X and 3X.
Relay For Life Dates:
Four ACS Relay For Life events have been scheduled for Southeast Tennessee in April and May. They include Meigs County, April 27-28; Bradley County, May 4-5; McMinn County, May 11-12; and Polk County, May 18.
423-855-2778 or 284-8490