Chili Cook-off Raises $11,000 for the United Way

The 18th annual Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off on Saturday, June 1, produced great chili and a total of $11,000 for the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley.

City officials and Cookoff Chairperson Rosemary Humway-Warmuth presented a check in that amount on the city’s behalf to Melynda Sampson, associate director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, today, Tuesday, June 11. They were joined by some of the local cooks who competed in the June 1 event.

A total of 36 individual cooks competed in the 18th annual cook-off, along with a dozen restaurants and commercial chili entries. The top winners in the International Chili Society (ICS) competition categories (traditional red, veggie, homestyle and a new youth division) are eligible to compete in the World’s Championship Chili Cook-off in September in Des Moines, Iowa, and in the World Food Championships.

“I feel safe in saying that the quality of the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off is of the finest in the country. In fact, the current winner of the World Championship cooked and judged at this year’s event,” Humway-Warmuth said. “The continued success of the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off is due to the commitment of the City of Wheeling, the employees, volunteers, and chili cooks and teams who make chili and serve it with a smile.”

More than $5,000 in prizes was distributed based on the judges’ rankings. The judging tent housed more than 50 local judges throughout the day, under the leadership of the “Head Chili,” Brian Warmuth. Brian has competed at chili cook-off events throughout the country for more than 25 years and was instrumental in founding the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off.

“This partnership with the City of Wheeling has dual value. Underneath this fun event that brings the community together and kicks off summer in the Ohio Valley, is a needed donation to help fight some of the biggest issues our community is facing,” said Jessica Rine, United Way executive director.

Based on final scores tabulated by head scorekeeper Nancy Hughes of Kozicki Hughes Tickerhoof, PLLC, the winners in the 2019 Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off are as follows:

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Miss Chili Pepper — Kalli Lindsey, Wheeling

Mr. Hot Sauce — John “The Reverend” Harwell, Ohio

Best Booth (Individual) — “Uncle” Dave Bartsch, Ohio

Best Booth (Restaurant/Commercial) — The Vagabond Kitchen

Rookie of the Year — John Thomas, South Carolina

Best Commercial/Restaurant — Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack (first place), Wheeling;

The Vagabond Kitchen (second place), Wheeling

People’s Choice (Individual) — Uncle Dave’s Chili, Ohio

People’s Choice (Restaurant/Commercial) — Ye Olde Alpha, Wheeling

Homestyle — Aimee Hoover, Ohio

ICS Veggie — Chris Johnson, Pennsylvania

ICS Chile Verde — Wendy Chaurin, Ohio

ICS Red — Gail Kyle, Michigan

ICS Youth Division — Aiden Svancara, Ohio

Participating commercial entries included: Ye Olde Alpha; TJ’s Sports Garden with Main Street Bank; Vagabond Kitchen; Eat’n Park; Generations with the Wheeling Nailers; Ruttenbucks; Quaker Steak and Lube; River City; Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack; and Oglebay. The United Way volunteers manned a booth serving chili from several restaurants.

To date, the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off — held the first full weekend of June, hosted by the City of Wheeling and sanctioned by the International Chili Society — has brought in more than $110,000 for the United Way. The 2020 Wheeling Feeling Chili Cook-off will be held Saturday, June 6.