Chili cook-off to fund children’s needs

BIG SPRING – West Texas Centers and the Fraternal Lodge will be cooking up some friendly competition Jan. 29 at the Ninth Annual Children-In-Need Chili Cook-off hosted by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3188 and benefiting West Texas Centers Children-In-Need benefit fund.Close to 40 cooks are expected to participate in what has become one of the more popular chili cookoffs in the region, West Texas Centers Chief Operating Officer Landon Sturdivant said.“The chili cook-off is well-organized and competitive, which is important to the chili cooks or who are known as chili-heads,” Sturdivant said. “It’s also a great deal of fun and easy-going enough for people who have never tried it before. We try to make it a comfortable family friendly event for everyone.”An extensive list of judges will be on hand to critique entries on taste, appearance and aroma, selecting the top 10 for awards presentation, Sturdivant said.  Each of the top 10 cooks will receive a plaque recognizing their culinary expertise. In addition, one award will be presented for Best of Show.Team entries are $10 and membership is limited to two people. Entry into the event is $5 and gives you the opportunity to test all the chili available for judging.Proceeds benefit the Children in Need fund, which provides money to children who may have a special one-time need, West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith said.“It may be a pair of cleats for softball or a calculator for class,” she said. “It’s something that a child needs but his or her parent cannot afford it at the time.”The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie No. 3188 raised $10,500 for West Texas Centers Children-In-Need benefit fund last year, Sturdivant said, “This is a very special fundraising event for needy children, as 10 percent of the funds raised go directly to helping children with special needs”.“The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie No. 3188 Chili Cook-off is our main source of funding for the Children-In-Need fund,” Smith said. “Before they started the chili cook-off nine years ago, we had run out of options. They have been a true blessing.”Cooking begins at 8 a.m. with judging scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tickets will be available at the door.For more information, contact Sturdivant at (432) 264-3247 or