Twenty-five teams competed in the 25th annual chili cook off sponsored by Don’s Place, Coors distributor, and WLDS-WEAI. All of the proceeds benefited Jacksonville’s Vet-2-Vet program.
Jim Duncan is co-founder of the organization. He says the program helps men and women transition to civilian life after serving the country. Duncan says this fundraiser will go toward building an internet café at the AMVETS building at 210 East Court.
“We're going to provide the laptops, we'll repaint the room, put carpeting down, and buy furniture and a printer," says Duncan. "A veteran could come in - someone going to school could do homework if they wanted to. We're going to try to do some e-mail classes. Teach some of the older veterans who don't really know how to do it. We'll set up a Gmail account or something."
"People can look for jobs, apply for benefits, do research or just do whatever they want to do," says Duncan.
Don’s Place owner Dan Kindred puts on the event with local Coors representative Mike Sullivan.
“We set it up as a charity program and said we'd do a new benefactor every year," says Kindred. "Our industry, the alcohol industry, has kind of a bad name for itself, so we wanted to do something for the community. We've been doing this for 25 years."
Some of the competitors spent hours deciding what ingredients would make their chili just right. For Elizabeth Beets of Jacksonville, the approach was different.
“We actually just went to the store, threw a bunch of random ingredients in the cart, came out here, and played it by ear," says Beets. "It's not my mom's chili but it's alright. Chili is chili to me."
Competitor Susanne Brawdy was happy to cook for a good cause.
“This is our second year out here," says Brawdy. "Last year, we came out just for the heck of it and we ended up getting second place and had a great time. We decided to definitely come out again this year and it's going to Vet-2-Vet, so that's even better."
The first place trophy went to Brian English and Adam Davis. Rick Stelling and Ryan Bumganer took home second place and the people’s choice award. And Joe Gillock won third place.