LaGRANGE — With 17 competing teams in the 25th annual Chili Cook Off, the more than 1,000 attendees had some tough decisions to make Saturday in downtown LaGrange.
Nearly 800 votes were cast for the coveted People’s Choice award, but for the fourth year in a row, the distinction went home with the Beall’s Plumbing team for their spicy, secret-recipe stew.
Regina Andrews, who came to the cook off from Valley, Alabama, said she liked Beall’s chili because of its freshness and choice ingredients.
“It tastes like real, homemade chili,” she said as she sampled it. “It’s not mushy, not too watery. All of the ingredients are cooked. I’m think this is the one I’m going to vote for.”
Alex Beall of Beall’s Plumbing said he was excited to take home the award – again — but he doesn’t hog the credit to himself.
“We never talk about the recipe,” he said. “But I will say that our secret ingredient is our people. We have an incredible team that helps pull this off every year.”
A larger than expected crowd may have helped introduce a whole new segment of the community to Beall’s award-winning concoction, he said.
“I feel very good, I’m excited,” Beall said of winning. “Its seems like there are more people here than normal, and that’s good. It’s really good to see (the Chili Cook Off) take off.”
If sampling the wide variety of chili wasn’t one’s taste, games, trick-or-treating, face painting and a Halloween costume contest were all on hand to entertain kids of all ages.
Barbie Watts, who helped organize the event for the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, said she was glad everyone seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.
“We got lucky,” she said. “We had beautiful weather, a great turnout and I think everyone had a great time.”
Two other chili-related awards were also handed out at the event’s conclusion: FLI Properties was presented the Chef’s Choice award and Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church won the Best Booth award for their “Operation Christmas Shoe Box” theme.
In the costume contest, winners included: Ansley Schmitt, Jacob Waters, Ensley Murphy, Jude Clegg, Ethan and Alexis Franklin, Anna Clare Dagenhart and Devin Moore.
Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.