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A day of rain didn’t stop chili aficionados from cooking and consuming their favorite concoction at the annual Show-Me State Chili Cook-off in Clarksville on Saturday, June 7.
“We had a good crowd,” said event organizer Linda Blakey. “It went as well as expected given the weather.”
Prize winner George Rives, of Eolia, was cooking red chili under one of many tents at Riverfront Park.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Rives said. “Some of the cooks are retired and go somewhere (for competition) every week. The $25,000 world prize is the incentive.”
First place winners at the cook-off qualified for the International Chili Society’s World Championship to be held later this year.
Clopton High Class of 1964 member Larry Wright qualified for the world championship in the “Anything Goes” category at the Clarksville cook-off and has done so 10 other times with wins in the Arkansas and Indiana state contests.
Wright lives in St. Charles now, the base for his “The Wright Stuff Chili” team. It started when a friend asked him to judge a chili cook-off in St. Charles 29 years ago. On a lark, Wright entered as well and won fourth place.
“I’ve just got hooked on it,” he said. “It’s a chance to travel a little bit. You can’t be disappointed if you don’t win because everybody’s a good cook.
Wes and Ginny Carlson of Loves Park, Ill., have also been on the competitive chili circuit for years.
“I won my first competition in 1996,” Wes Carlson said. He is now a grandmaster having won more than 12 first place awards in society- sanctioned events that judge, red chili, chili verde, anything goes chili and salsa.
Carlson is a past world champion in chili verde and has been competing since 1983.
“I’m the only cook that has cooked in all 50 states,” he said. “Some people chase a little white ball around a pasture. We do this.”
Aly Atchison, of Wapella, Ill., was there with her “Flaming Monkey Chili” team.
“I monkey around with seasonings and I always have so that’s why it’s called that,” Atchison said.
Entertaining the crowd throughout the day was the “Everyday People” band from St. Louis.
Here are the top places from the Clarksville cook-off in each category, according to Blakey:
1) Larry Wright, of St. Charles.
2) Kyle Barton, of Iowa.
3) George Rives.
1) Kyle Barton.
2) George Rives.
3) Ron Ogden, of Bowling Green.
1) Mark Hurt, of Tolonto, Ill.
2) Mike Goodman, of Wisconsin.
3) Jill Goldberg, of Wisconsin.
1) Aly Atchison.
2) Shari Eivins, of Eolia.
3) Mark Hurt.