It wasn't a typical chili cook-off weekend on St. George Island, but if you measure it in dollars and cents, it was just as hot.
Organizers of a scaled back version of the longtime chili cookoff, which had to be modified due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended up partnering with a newly created Chili Crawl, that featured 43 contestants in 22 locations across the island.
The cook-off did not have the blessing of the International Chili Society, which has long sanctioned the regional cookoff whose winner is sent to the nationals. But Rusty Davis- one of the regular professional cooks from Tennessee came anyway and his team Cousin Leon and Smokin Suzi’s Groovy Chili won for Best Booth.
The site of Donna Stevenson and Lisa Speakman, which featured Bra Pong and Beat the Corn Hole King, and an ample supply of drinks served up and specially made win cups for sale, ended up turning in a whopping $2,000 to take the High Yield.
And Capt. Clint Taylor had the most votes for Best Chili. "He had two versions, spicy and mild," said Grayson Shepard, who in busy years overseeing the cadre of local judges who select the best among the field of competitors.
"He was on a mission to win it, telling everyone to vote for him," said Shepard. "It worked! "
The winners all got a token of esteem for their efforts, but the money all went to to the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department.
The Chili Crawl raised $10,254, Shepard said. and the online auction, which ended Wednesday, had as of Monday committed bids totaling over $39,000.
"The overall total hasn’t been calculated yet, but our goal was to al least match the $70,000 net we raised for the department in 2020," said Shepard. "It looks like we’ll do it!"
This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Modified chili weekend a marvel