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Chili cook-off warms hearts on chilly day

Photo courtesy Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority
The staff of The Kent Eatery and Spirits receive their first place trophy as winners of the Downtown Three Rivers Chili Cook-Off Saturday. The Kent’s signature brisket chili was the top vote-getter among attendees.

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

THREE RIVERS — Mother Nature tried to fool around with rainy and chilly weather Saturday, April 1, but that didn’t stop a local chili cook-off from going off without a hitch.
Downtown Three Rivers hosted its first downtown Chili Cook-Off competition Saturday, where a dozen local businesses in the downtown district faced off to see which establishment had the best chili around. Billed as a way to bring more people to downtown with a fun event in the late winter/early spring months, the competition ended up as a way to warm people up in rainy and sometimes snowy weather throughout the afternoon.
“It feels correct, because the weather aligned with it perfectly,” Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Cameron Mains said.
The event, which was rescheduled from a March date due to weather and power issues, was part competition and part fundraiser, as proceeds from the event were split between the Three Rivers Food Site and a dog park project in downtown Three Rivers that the DDA will be opening up crowdfunding for soon.
“Three Rivers events are usually in a six-month timeframe, and then we don’t do anything for the other six months, so we’re looking at ways to expand that. That was our first inclination to finding something for these months that aren’t as busy,” Mains said. “Then we started looking at the dog park project we’re working on through the Public Places Community Spaces grant, where we have to crowdfund 50 percent of the project cost in 60 days, so we wanted to put something beforehand that we could at least start the project off and make it a success no matter what.”
About 100 people attended Saturday’s cook-off, with some businesses reporting running out of chili right before the end of the event.
Attendees voted for their favorite chili, placing them in boxes located at the DDA’s offices at 57 N. Main St. The top three received bragging rights, along with trophies created by downtown residents Mike Curtis and Lisa Devine.
Winning first prize in the inaugural competition was The Kent Eatery and Spirits with their brisket chili, second place went to GG’s Cookies for their Cajun-style chili, and third place went to Useless Creatures Brewing Company for their ground beef chili with their Black Spot Stout, cornbread, chipotle lime crème and candied jalapeno.
Many of the local business owners said they enjoyed participating in this year’s competition, and would do so again next year.
“It’s nice to be part of the community, get exposed, and have people find out what we’re all about,” Shelly Miller, owner of The Kent, said. “It’s for a good cause with the food pantry and the dog park.”
“We’re always glad to take part in these events downtown, especially when we can give people fun things to do down here and explore downtown,” Evan Monroe, owner of Useless Creatures, said.
“We did this to help bring more people downtown,” Candy Zeismer, owner of CZ’s Resale, said. “I wanted to be a part of it, and having new people come in was nice. We’ve had quite a few new people because of this. We’ll be doing it again next year.”
Mains said he believed the event was successful, and is looking forward to doing it again.
“We want to do more, and we’re always looking for more volunteers and people who want to bring things to do in downtown Three Rivers,” Mains said. “We want to be here and let everyone know that even if it’s Spring Break, not everybody leaves for Spring Break. We need to have things to do in our town no matter what the time, because there’s people who want to do things.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

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