Warm Temperatures, Even Warmer Chili

WHEELING – From sweet and spicy to flat out hot, those attending the Saturday Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-Off at Heritage Port found a variety of recipes to delight their taste buds – as well as a dancing chili pepper named “Pedro.”

Event Chairwoman Rosemary Humway-Warmuth said the 13th annual event drew a record number of participants and hundreds of hungry attendees, along with notably warm temperatures.

“Everyone is having a great time. We hope to raise more than $8,000 for the United Way this year,” she said.

Humway-Warmuth said the events have helped raise more than $80,000 for the United Way since the cook-offs began.

Many participants drove a long way to serve their chili alongside the Ohio River, while others did not go so far.

“We do this every year. It is a great time,” said Main Street Bank employee Barry Crow, while working in a booth handled by both the bank and TJ’s Sports Garden.

“You’re going to like this,” TJ’s manager Jim Pulice vowed while spooning out some of the restaurant’s chili.

Shadyside resident Butch Talbert said he has been participating in the cook-off since it’s inception, though not necessarily in hopes of winning an award.

“It’s just a lot of fun. I just really enjoy the cooking – and it’s for a good cause like the United Way,” he said.

Noting he cooks both red and green chili, Talbert simply called his recipe, “Good chili with a kick.'”

Talbert’s booth also featured his mascot, “Pedro,” a dancing chili pepper that helped entertain the crowd.

The event is sanctioned by the International Chili Society, meaning that the first place ICS winners in the Red, Verde, Salsa and Homestyle categories are eligible to enter the 2014 ICS World Cook-off set for October in California. They also will be eligible to enter the World Food Championship set for Nov. 12-18 in Las Vegas.