Thursday, January 11, 2007

THURSDAY - January 11, 2007

Laughlin Back-to-Back Cookoffs - by Karen Ray
Wind is not a friend to the chili cooks. Although it was very windy on Friday as the cooks chose their spots and began to set up, all of the weather reports indicated that it would diminish for the next day---NOT! A very windy Saturday greeted the cooks as they ventured out to complete their setup and begin the Laughlin Regional Chili Cookoff. But chili cooks are hearty folk, tolerant of most weather conditions. Many of those present had faced much worse. We heard stories of hurricanes, tornados, snow and sleet and more.
A total of 92 individual cooks presented their culinary efforts for judging on Saturday . Thirteen states were represented: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Washington. Many of these entered more than one contest. There were 29 Salsa competitors, 44 Chili Verde contestants, and 74 brave souls vied for the Traditional Red Chili title. A lot was at stake---very good prize money in all categories. And the winners each day in Chili Verde and Traditional Red Chili claimed a beautiful Director's Chair commemorating their wins.
The public was sparse because of the wind. But "Bulls Eye" from Bullhead City entertained, as they have in the past. There were raffles all day, both days, for a wonderful selection of prizes---more later. The judges were varied and excellent---more later. At the end of the day the winners were:
3rd, Jim Jordan CA
2nd, Dave Schulman CT
1st, Russell Barnes CA, Advancing to the World's Championship
Chili Verde:
5th, Gary Nelson NV
4th, Larry Weltikol NV
3rd, Bob Wiseman NV
2nd, Gail Donovan OH
1st, Bob Hall IL---this is Bob's 4th time to win Chili Verde at this cookoff! And he advances to the World's Championship
Traditional Red Chili:
5th, Mark Haught NV
4th, Mike Ford CA
3rd, George Anderson WA
2nd, Mike Stewart CA
1st, David Thomas CA, Advancing to the World's Championship
On Saturday night all of the weather reports said that the winds would be reduced---WRONG!! If anything, they were heavier on Sunday morning for the Nevada State Championship. When we went out to the cookoff , the canopies were mostly gone and the cooks were huddled where they could find shelter. On a positive note, there is a plan for future cookoffs, if this situation occurs again! Unfortunately, it could not be implemented on such short notice.
The ranks were somewhat decimated; only 79 individual cooks remained and one less state was represented. Interestingly, the temperatures were warmer than on Saturday, and the wind velocity varied as you walked around the cookoff. Again, "Bulls Eye" entertained the cooks and the public. The ongoing raffles were well received by cooks, judges and public. Nearly $1,400 was raised for the charity, "We Care Cancer", which is a local hospice for terminal cancer patients. Raffle prizes were donated from many sources. Dennis Macklin gave a very nice Kohler faucet. And a donated TV set was donated back then auctioned for $175 for the charity. Perhaps the happiest raffle recipient was Starr Anderson, who won the lovely chili afghan made by Leah Wieland. Emotionally, George and Starr said that it was special to them, as they still have one of the original crocheted chili peppers from Leah many years ago!
Like the chili cooks, judges came from many areas to lend their expertise and credibility to the cookoffs. Current World's Champion J. R. Knudson and 1987 World's Champion Margo Knudson, Fred Wieland, Ormly Gumfudgin, Roy Palmer, Dave and Kathy Hipskind (the new ICS Chief Judge and Scorekeeper), and 1994 World's Champion Bill Ray are only a few deserving of mention. The Lake Havasu Chili Checkers were outstanding volunteers and assisted in all areas, as needed. Chairpersons were Gary and Dawn Nehf (Laughlin Regional) and Sonny Allen (Nevada State). Chief Scorekeepers were Karen Ray (Laughlin Regional) and Leah Wieland (Nevada State). Leah has officially retired from this capacity; Donnie Gordon will assume scorekeeping duties next year. Special thanks are appropriate to the Golden Nugget for hosting and supporting these events through their Director of Hotel Operations, Patty Osterhout.
The climax of this weekend is always the races among the "scooter people". There were five contestants: Ormly Gumfudgin, Desert Dawn Nehf, Mike McAfee for Pop Baker, Starr Anderson and "Luggage-Cart Patty" Osterhout. After lots of foolishness, a little good natured cheating and an outstanding performance by Ormly's pit crew, Ormly was declared the 2007 Scooter Race Championship.
Oh, yes, the Nevada State chili winners were:
Salsa (20 entries):
5th, Louis Gonzales TX
4th, Sheila Beller CA
3rd, Shawn Huffman, UT (a brand new cook!)
2nd, Susie Decker CA
1st, Jodi Wiseman---a Nevada State Champion from Nevada!
Chili Verde (33 entries):
5th, Larry Weltikol NV tied with Bill Donovan OH
4th, Ron Judson CA
3rd, Mark Haught, NV
2nd, Karen Angotti, CA
1st Jim Beaty CA, advancing to the World's Championship
Traditional Red Chili (61 entries):
5th, Harry Robinson CA
4th, Eileen Beaty CA
3rd, Allene Macklin CA
2nd, Bob Plager CO
1st, John Medcraft CA, representing the State of Nevada at the World's Championship
See ya next year!


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