Church’s chili cook-off expands in second year

MARIETTA – The aroma of homemade chili filled the fellowship hall at St. Marys Catholic Church in Marietta on Sunday.

“It’s our second annual chili cook-off, and we had 35 entries – that’s up from 25 last year,” said Betsy Lang, president of the St. Marys Catholic Womens Club, which sponsored the event.

For the modest price of $5, participants were able to sample cups from all 35 pots of chili cooked up by individual parishioners.

“I didn’t realize there were so many varieties of chili,” said Matt Westfall who kept moving from serving table to serving table, stirring each pot of chili as he went.

He said the chilis were concocted from a host of unusual ingredients that included bacon and ham, chopped-up hot dog wieners, macaroni and vegetables, and white chili made with chicken.

Womens club member Janet Steinel, of Marietta, took third place in last year’s competition.

“I entered the same recipe this year,” she said. “It’s a sweet chili – I use sugar, but also ground beef and two kinds of beans and tomatoes.”

Diane Palmer, also from Marietta, made a sweet chili recipe, too, for Sunday’s cook-off event.

“It’s mild, but also kind of spicy – my own recipe,” she said. “I just like to donate a pot every year.”

Kyle Nay, of Logan, brought his family to the cook-off on Sunday.

“I’ve tried all 35 varieties – it’s a world of flavors and cultural diversity,” he said. “But I’m more of a traditional chili person. I like it a little spicy, too. So my son and I have picked three we really like.”

Lang said the competition isn’t anything too serious, with cash prizes of $50, $25 and $10.

“It’s really more about the fellowship with all of the parishioners,” she said.

Proceeds from last year’s event – around $600 – helped with some renovation work at the church and rectory, Lang said.

“We haven’t decided what this year’s money will be used for,” she added.

Father Mike Campbell admitted he didn’t cook up any chili for this year’s event.

“I didn’t want to be blamed for anyone getting sick,” he joked. “But this is really a good opportunity for our people to get together. We have four different masses each week, serving about 1,100 families. So this gives them a chance to get to know fellow parishioners they may not otherwise meet.”