Chili cook-off heats up Philippi

PHILIPPI – The scent of 15 different chili recipes merged in the air around the Barbour County Courthouse Saturday as contestants in three adult categories and one youth category chopped, stirred and cooked up their favorite flavors.

The 17th annual Smokin’ on the Tygart Chili Cook-off in Philippi showcased local chefs and down-home cooking. When the recipes were perfected, the contestants sent a cup to the judges room in the basement of City Hall.

“It’s a great community event,” Janie Johnston of Philippi, competing for the Hospice Care Corporation, said. “We like to do anything we can to support Philippi.”

Recipes were judged based on their aromas, taste, aftertaste, consistency and how red they were.

The recipes also were in competition for “Most Atomic,” based on how hot they were.

For this award, judges unanimously chose Papaw’s Hillbilly Chili by Dave Fenstermacher.

Several local businesses competed in this year’s cook-off. Karen Sutton with Karen’s Kandles won first place for her recipe, “Kool Chili.” In second place was Gary Schoonover of Stemple Funeral Home for “Gravedigger Chili.” Schoonover prepared his recipe with other members of his family. In third place, Shop ‘N Save won for “Shop ‘N Save Chili Express.”

“We like to cook chili,” Schoonover said. “We like to be here. It’s a great atmosphere. People seem to enjoy our chili, and we enjoy that.”

Organizations also competed with their chili recipes. In first place is the WVU Trauma Center for “The Traumatic Perforator.” In second place is Philippi Church of the Nazarene, and in third place is Hospice Care Corporation.

“We do it every year because we think it’s fun,” Trell Stowell, one of the WVU Trauma Center cooks, said.

Stowell said participating also is a way to provide outreach to the community and give educational information to those who attend the event.

Stowell also won the hot pepper eating contest.

Some cooks competed individually. In first place for the individual category is Rod Stemple and Jeff McCartney for “Last Chance Chili.” In second place is James Gould and Ryan Sisson for “Team 57 Chili.” In third place is Sam Schola for “Sam’s Hillbilly Chili.”

In the youth category, 10-year-old Joshua Bennett, the youngest competing chef, won for his recipe. Everyone in attendance had the opportunity to taste-test the chili recipes and vote for their favorites. Sam Schola won the People’s Choice award for his chili recipe.

However, the chili cooks weren’t judged only on their recipes. At Smokin’ on the Tygart, cooks come dressed up. They also decorate their booths to attempt to win another prize. The best dressed cooks this year were Jim and Rochelle Sutton who dressed up as pirates. They also won best-named chili for giving their creation the title “Cara Bean Chili.” The best decorated booth award went to the Cast Iron Cowgirls.

Awards were given for the cruise-in as well. For the oldest car registered in the event, Digger Schola, Buck Rowan and Charles Phillips all tied as winners. The oldest bike award went to Danny Sullivan. Dave Keener won an award for traveling the farthest to participate in the event.

The best of show award went to Dick and Robin Love for their 1971 Dodge Demon. Honorable mentions in the cruise-in include Everett George, Suzy Ball, Mike Grass, Richard Smith, Kumar Lambert and Bruce Keener.

Although the vehicle didn’t win, Dick Smith’s 1923 Ford, powered by a Chevy engine, attracted quite a bit of attention from spectators.

“This is awesome, and it’s different,” Marsha Hendershott of Philippi said about the Superman themed vehicle. “This should be put on TV, like in a movie or something. It’s awesome.”