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Chili cook-off takes chill off
Three-year-old Lauren Bhola danced in a circle, with her beaded necklaces bouncing to the rhythm of the music, ran to her father to kiss him on his cheek and returned to the dance floor.

Though friendly competition and the smell of chili filled Neptune Park Saturday on St. Simons Island, the Golden Isles Rotary Club Red Hot Chili Cook-off was about more than who could make the best or most spicy chili.

"It's a community event," said Ralph Bhola of Brunswick as he watched his daughter dance to the music of the band Stringrays. "I'm always interested in supporting the community."

Money raised during the event that included restaurants and novice chefs alike vying for the best chili benefitted nonprofit groups supported by the Rotary Club.

Jessica Bush of St. Simons Island was one of those who came out in the cold and wind to enjoy the event.

"I just came to support the community. It's nice to see people you know," Bush said as her daughter, Olivia, leaped into her arms while waiting in line to sample chili.

Darla Schoeppner was handing out a multitude of sample cups to a line of attendees waiting to sample the chili of the Southeast Georgia Health System Volunteer Services team.

Her first time at the event, Schoeppner saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about her organization and network with other community partners.

"I want to do this every year,' Schoeppner said.

But it wasn't just Glynn County natives looking for bragging rights.

Self-proclaimed snowbird Joan Keele formed a team with other residents of the small mountain town of Blowing Rock, N.C., who spend their winters in the Golden Isles.

For the out-of-town team, it was a chance to feel like a real part of the island and to get to know people who call it home year 'round.

"It brings us closer to the community," Keele said. "It's fun to see this community come out and enjoy each other."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswick news.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

Winners

Winners in the Golden Isles Rotary Club Chili Cook-off:

Judged category

First - All-Star Tax Team

Second - St. Simons Health and Fitness

Third - College of Coastal Georgia Culinary

Peoples Choice

First - Ole Times Country Buffet

Second - Gnats Landing / Bubba Garcia's

Third - Sea Island Apprentice Program

Best Heat

College of Coastal Georgia Culinary

Most Unique

St. Simons Health and Fitness

Best Booth Theme

Marsh's Edge



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