Letter: A delicious ChiliFest, thanks to . . .

“I never made chili before in my life!”

The shocked quote matched the beaming smile from Paul Grosso minutes after the Amissville resident accepted the Best Chili plaque/home chef category in the 2014 Rappahannock Lions Club ChiliFest. He shared top honors with three-time commercial winner Debbie Donehey of Griffin Tavern.

Paul Grosso, left, accepts the Best Chili award from the Lions’ Jim Manwaring Saturday at the Washington fire hall.
Paul Grosso, left, accepts the Best Chili award from the Lions’ Jim Manwaring Saturday at the Washington fire hall. Larry “Bud” Meyer

They were joined in the evening’s winners’ circle by four finalists splitting $5,000 in the club’s dramatic annual drawdown event and fundraiser at Sperryville Volunteer Fire Hall on a perfect autumn Saturday. The quartet: Rick and Kaye Kohler, Charles and Pat Whorton, Barney and Mary O’Meara and Tom and Cheryl Taylor.

But the long-term beneficiaries of the annual event are the citizens of Rappahannock County, thanks to the Lions Club’s commitment to raise funds for scholarships, service projects and nonprofit needs.

Chili entries were given fun, fictitious names to protect their makers and were judged anonymously by the event’s attendees. Paul says he approached the challenge by experimenting with a variety of recipes and went big with pork, beef, venison and elk. Wife Jackie said: “It was all Paul.”

We have many folks to thank for helping pull off this year’s event, starting with event chair Jim Manwaring. Ditto to members of the high school’s Leo Club, who supervised serving 15 different batches of chili for scores of judges.

We thank our Lions Roar sponsors: Critical Stages Graphic Design (Bill Pragluski), T.G. Taylor & Son Construction, BH&G Real Estate III (Kaye and Rick Kohler), Greve Foundation, Inn at Little Washington, Rappahannock Hunt, Rappahannock News, Shaw’s Services Inc., Burgers-N-Things, Thornton Hill Fort Valley Hounds and Union First Market Bank (Mike Leake).

Our Lions Gold sponsors include Cheri Woodard Realty, 84 Lumber (Culpeper) and CFC Farm & Home Center. Lions Purple sponsors are Farm Credit of the Virginias, and Peter Kreyling and Morningside Press, publishers of “Mother Fracker.”

We thank our local restaurants for their contributions: The Flint Hill Public House, The Country Cafe, Blue Rock Inn, Griffin Tavern and Thornton River Catering. Also thank you, Creekside Bakery in Sperryville, for the great desserts.

Thanks also go to our musicians, former Bland Contest winner Tyler Johnson and Richard Brady. Thanks also to Jim and Liz Blubaugh, Carolyn Manwaring and family, DeEtte Axelson, Kathy Grove, Merl Daczewitz, Pat Sher and Lisa Manwaring for setup.

Always a fun event, the ChiliFest is a great way for prospective Lions to meet club members, their spouses and families, and find out more about our service activities year-round. And you might just find yourself on stage, tummy warmed by Paul and Debbie’s chili, with a shot at $5,000.

Gordon Axelson, Lions president
Jim Manwaring and Larry Grove, event co-chairs

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