|Bringing the spice for 28 years|
|July 17, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen - Mike Lienemann from Scottsbluff offers samples of his prize winning ‘Prime Pork Chili’ at the 27th Annual Nebraska State Championship CASI Chili Cook-Off at Five Rocks on Saturday. Lienemann and his friends represented the American Legion at this year’s cook-off. He was happy to wear Husker red while serving his delicious pork chili. The Legion’s chili was the crowd favorite last year, winning first place in the pork chili category.
Thirty-three cooks from around the area set up at Five Rocks Amphitheater last Saturday for the 28th annual Oregon Trail Days Chili Cook-Off, and it was a big success.
“It was a super day and I was really happy with how everything turned out,” said event organizer Bill Schlaepfer. “The weather was beautiful and we had plenty of good cooks and good chili.”
The cooks stirred up their best culinary offerings in four divisions: beef, bean, green chili and CASI chili.
CASI chili is the official “bowl of red” of the Chili Appreciation Society International. The Oregon Trail Days Chili Cook-Off is their Nebraska state championship event. Winners qualify to compete in the international competition, held every November in Terlingua, Texas.
After the gas burners were turned off and entries judged, the results were tabulated. There were 23 cooks who competed in the CASI chili division and Mike Dallas was the winner. Second through 10th places went to John Montgomery, Dorothy Evelyn, Jerry Arnold, Kyle Haberman, Tim Gonzales, Doug Evelyn, Andrew Reifschneider, Judy Haberman and Dustin Ludwig.
The CASI chili division also included a category for junior cooks, under the age of 19. Mia Arnold won that category, followed by Rylee Harris and Kyler Hubler.
Green chili, one of the fan favorites, brought 18 cooks vying for top honors. First place went to Linda Harris. The rest of the top 10 were Bert Flores, Mike Atkins, Tim Gonzales, Mike Dallas, Mike Lienmann, Brent Pierce, Doug Evelyn, Aurillo Godina, Dustin Ludwig and Kevin Kisler.
Another 16 competed in the bean category, with Jeff Frunner as the winner. Second through 10th place cooks were Matt Montague, Dustin Ludwig, Glenda Heinrich, Jerry Arnold, Kurt Hansen, Matt Arnold, Mike Horton, Kevin Straugh and Scott Harris.
Nine cooks submitted entries in the beef category. Dave Chuckhammer took first prize for beef and the rest of the field included Scott Harris, Todd Meghini, Chris Freeze, Bob Ledet, the team of Shermaine Sterkel and Becky Collins, Jeff Nemnich, Jerry Arnold and Matt Arnold.
The awards weren’t just food-based, either. Jerry Arnold was the winner of the Showmanship Award, with the team of Charmaine Sterkel and Becky Collins coming in second. Third place in showmanship went to Mike Atkins.
The People’s Choice Award is decided by the public who taste the chili during the event, and it’s a “bragging rights” kind of award for the cooks. After the votes were counted, Mike Lienemann and Brent Pierce came away with the award.