News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 9, 2012

31 entries look to claim title at 30th Annual Altrusa Chili Cook-Off

Event raises $16K for community projects

TERRE HAUTE — It wasn’t too chilly for the lovers of chili who crowded into downtown parking lots Saturday.

The 30th Annual Altrusa Chili Cook-Off brought 31 entries to a boil inside the Clabber Girl Festival Marketplace that morning.

Temperatures drifted up a dozen degrees from start to finish topping out in the low 70s, with sunshine a constant throughout the day for attendees.

Jenny Strole, president of Altrusa International Terre Haute, said she’d been too busy bustling about the lots to sample any of the entries by noon.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any left-overs,” she said. “There’ll be that big of a crowd.”

Jody Reinoehl, chair of the event, said last year’s cook-off raised $14,000. By Saturday’s end, $16,000 had been counted.

Altrusa International’s goal is to recognize and address the need for literacy throughout the world. Locally, the organization serves as a network of executives and professionals who provide community service through a broad array of projects. In addition to the annual Vigo County Spelling Bee, funds raised at the cook-off help provide local scholarships, money for GED testing and tutoring.

Strole said the event was originally hosted at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds, but has since moved downtown and continued to grow.

Newcomers to the event included the Bad Apple Saloon from Cory. Sporting a cauldron full of chili, the founders of what is planned to be an upscale pub in the small Clay County town brought fillets to the fight, mixing chunks into their bubbling concoction.

Partner Brandy Jackson said the recipe remained a secret, but the results were telling enough.

“We fixed 10 gallons and we’re darn near out, so we must be doing something right,” he said.

Jackson, Steven Seymour and Kelley Fischer are renovating Cory’s Odd Fellows Lodge, which was built in 1897, to house the operation.

“We’re hoping to open up in the spring of ’14,” Fischer said. “It’s going to be a little pub restaurant.”

In addition to chili, the team had green and tan shorts featuring their logo, as well as a concession stand. And the whole effort ended up earning them the Showmanship Award in the individual division.

Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher and J Ford’s Black Angus owner Jeff Ford were among the afternoon’s judges, passing by booths of varying themes. Women in poodle skirts dancing to 1950s music hawked chili on one end, while western apparel was used throughout.

Fisher said the Showmanship Award is given largely for creativity.

“We’re looking for things that really catch our eye,” he said.

Ford said the taste test of chili comes down to a balance of meat and tomatoes, pepper and spice. Not too hot though, Ford said he looks for a good mix.

The booth of Indiana CHANCES for Youth had its 2010 and 2011 corporate division championship trophies on display, right next to this year’s “Derby Chili.”

Cooks Alia Hazel and Robin Arnott said last year’s recipe was more of a southwest style, but this year they made it sweeter and the race theme fit as they sought their “triple crown.”

“We change our recipe every year so we don’t win with the same chili,” she said.

Arnott said the team wouldn’t divulge its recipe, but added the cooks all like to prepare chili at home, all the while missing the spice of competition.

“We do make it at home, but we love to do the Altrusa Chili Cook-off every year,” she said.

This year’s Individual Division was won by Made in a Keg Chili, and the Corporate Division was won by the GFS and Clabber Girl team.

Reinoehl said early in the event the group’s goal was to make more money than last year, which they did by $2,000. Her own favorite chili though would have to remain a secret.

“No comment,” she laughed. “They’re all winners.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

Cook-Off Awards

Individual Division

• 1st Place: Made in a Keg Chili

• 2nd Place: Bill Howard Chili

• 3rd Place: Mo Frijoles Chili by Jason Lake

Hottest Chili

• Curt Jones - Texas Style Chili


• Bad Apple Saloon Chili

Corporate Division

• 1st Place: Mariachi Chili - GFS and Clabber Girl

• 2nd Place: Fire Fighters Local 758

• 3rd Place: Forrest Sherer Expose “UR” Chili


• Green Thumbs of the Giving Garden


• Mariachi Chili - GFS and Clabber Girl

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