Thu. Jun 8th, 2023

Some of the best ways to meet people on campus is to get involved in a group and participant in group activities. Would one think that by cooking chili with other classmates would be a way to get involved?The Rotary Club has been hosting chili cook-offs for the past six years to raise money for community service projects locally and internationally. Last year a group of students representing the University entered the cook-off to make the “best chili in town.” They are returning for their second year of the cook-off on Sunday Oct. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. The student booth will be held on the corner of Gay and Church Street.

Last year the student’s team won fourth place in People’s choice award and also received a Spirit Award. The students took on the name of Ra Ra Chili, taken from WCU “Fight Song.” Alumni came to sample the chili and joined in chanting the “Fight Song.”

This year at the student’s booth, they will be joined by the University’s theater group as they will perform part of their show, the marching band will play, and the radio station, WCUR, will have a live broadcast.

West Chester students were given the opportunity to join in on the cook-off when the idea was introduced by a member of the Rotary Club and head of student programs coordinator, Mell Josephs. WCU students of the student government association (SGA) cooked their spicy chili with chicken last year. This year they are keeping their chili recipe a secret.

All of the students involved want to win an award by trying to make chili that the majority of the public would enjoy. With so many people working together, each student will voice their opinion to work together. They are strategizing to take into consideration how people like their chili to taste.

Executive Chief John Brimingham, who has been working for Aramark for the past 10 years, oversaw the students making chili last year and is helping again this year. Last year the student team made 60 gallons of chili. This year they plan to make 80 to 100 gallons of chili.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with students; getting to know them (because) I’m out there with them,” Brimingham said.

Laura Portner, senior, felt the same way about working with the chief. John explained that he usually works behind the scenes on campus and does not get to interact with students.

Many of the students, including sophomore Paul Tamke, Shannon Marcoon, junior, said that they were not involved until they joined SGA. During the cook-off last year, they felt like they were apart of the group.

The students commonly said that they wanted to become involved on campus, to meet others, help out the community and to “show the Borough the real student body.”

They expressed that the chili cook-off is hard work; they find it to be rewarding and enjoy the teamwork and comradely. Dawn Kling added that she loves chili.

“It shows a positive light that people are interested in the community,” senior Jai Northcraft, President of SGA said. “I’ll miss doing (the chili cook-off), but I’ll be a paying customer next year.”

Ginger Rae Dunbar is a second-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at

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