15th Annual Chili Cookoff fundraises for Boys & Girls Club of Columbia
COLUMBIA - Thousands of people and more than 300 gallons of chili filled the Expo Center Saturday for the 15th Annual Rootin' Tootin' Chili Competition.
The competition, hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Columbia, featured over 40 different chilis. From classic red to buffalo chicken, attendees and judges voted for their favorite to win top prizes. But, it wasn't all about the recipes. The biggest celebration was that all proceeds go directly back to the local Boys & Girls Club.
The Executive Director Valorie Livingston said the proceeds will fund after school and summer programs.
"Raising this money is what allows us to keep prices affordable," Livingston said. "Our goal this year is to raise $115,000."
This is the Boys & Girls Club of Columbia's biggest fundraiser every year since they started it 15 years ago. Last year, they raised over $100,000.
"We started this with the concept of four or five chili teams competing against each other, and now it has blossomed over the past 15 years to have 40 chili teams," Livingston said.
Ashley Taillon of First State Community Bank competed this year in the cook-off. She said the main reason she signed up to participate was to help support the club.
"The Boys & Girls Club is such a great group," Taillon said. "We definitely want to support them in anyway by raising any money we can."
Some of Taillon's competitors in the competition were children from the Boys & Girls Club. Taelen Kemp and Mikel Hall said their favorite part of the day was spending time in the kitchen. They will also see the donations go into effect firsthand.
"I'm excited for the Boys and Girls Club," Kemp said. While at the club, Kemp said he likes "to see my friends, have fun and also have time to do my homework."
Livingston said the best part of the event is the end result.
"The more money we can raise the more kids we can serve," Livingston said.