By Anne Eickstadt


The aroma of chili filled the Community Building Complex of Boone County, located at 111 W. First St. in Belvidere, on the evening of Thursday Nov. 17. Twenty-seven competitors all vied for the coveted chili cook-off trophy with their secret-family recipes or their super-spicy-hotter-than-anyone’s entry.

The Main Street Players of Boone County took time off of their performance schedule for Seussical the Musical to compete in the competition.

“We’ve had over 100 people every night so far,” Show Manager Sandra Tifft, said.

She also said they enjoy the annual chili competition.

“Last year was our first year, and we took ninth place,” Tifft said. “It’s mainly just for fun and to promote the shows.”

Shawn Kalas of Tropical Oasis Catering, last year’s chili winner, was a bit more serious about the competition.

“I’m really impressed with the way this is turning out,” Kalas said. “It’s nice to see the community turning out for the event. We hope to remain the champions.”

Midwest Dental also was a return competitor.

“This is our second year for the chili competition,” Rachel Perez, of Midwest Dental, said. “Last year, we took third. We are excited to be a part of the Belvidere community and are looking forward to taking first place this year.”

New Millenium Medical ran a Tiki Bar with their chili entry.

“This is my first year,” bartender Sam Campbell said. “I am having fun running the beer booth. New Millenium went all out with their chili table, tiki bar, and they brought in Yoshi, a massage therapist to complete the fun, relaxing atmosphere in their section of the competition.

“This is fun. It’s the first time I’ve been here. There are a lot of people,” Campbell said.

Some booths gave out gifts as well as chili, and people dressed up with fake mustaches, black fedoras, and firemen’s helmets.

“This is a great event, it gets the community together,” Chili Judge George Schaffer said. “I look forward to it every year. Being a judge has its perks. The Belvidere Chamber rocks.”

George Mutert of the Franklin Display Group serenaded the room with song and guitar music throughout the competition.

“Tom [Lassandro, of the Belvidere Chamber of Commerce] does a great job, and Julie, too,” Mutert said. “It’s a great way to kick off the holiday.”

Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain helped man the City of Belvidere’s ‘1950s diner booth’ which offered chili dogs, popcorn, and black cows.

“This is a great event that everyone looks forward to,” Mayor Chamberlain said. “There are no losers, only winners.”

It is a good event for the community to come out and see as well.

“It is good for the community,” Katie Morgan, of Immanuel Lutheran School, said.

“It is a lot of fun,” Kelly Lusz added. “If you missed it, you missed a good time.”

At the Rotary Club carnival booth, kids picked ducks and won pieces of candy.

Heritage Woods of Belvidere sported a Wizard of Oz theme and several booths had a camping theme going on and had s’mores for dessert.

The Belvidere Fire Department offered Five Alarm Chili.

“It’s great to have these types of events in the community. It brings people together,” firefighter Dan Drell said.

The chili consisted of beef, chicken and venison. Booths offered take-away gifts such as pens, beaded necklaces, balls, bottle insulating holders, discount coupons, hats, mustaches, and more.

“The Chamber does an awesome job bringing contestants together for some great chili,” State Representative Joe Sosnowski said. “It’s a great event for the community to come take part in.”

The chili competition winners are as follows:

First place went to State Representative Joe Sosnowski.

Second place went to the Belvidere Fire Department.

Third place went to Immanuel Lutheran School.

Fourth place went to Tropical Oasis Catering.

Fifth place went to City of Belvidere.

Sixth place went to Generations Chiropractic.

Seventh place went to OSF Saint Anthony.

Eighth place went to First National Bank.

Ninth place went to Wanless Brothers Moving and Storage.

Tenth place went to Bel-Rock Asphalt Paving.

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