Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

It is that time of the year again for all-you-can eat home-made chili. The Rotary Club of West Chester will host the sixth annual chili cook-off on Sunday Oct. 5, located on Gay Street between New Street and High Street, chili samples will be available and entertainment will be provided.

The chili cook-off is a fundraiser for the Rotary Club, all the money raised is used for community service projects. The day after this event, the money will be used for the projects. Chili cook-off is the single largest fundraiser of the year for the Rotary Club. The funding will be used locally and internationally.

Some of the projects include building a house on Poplar and Barnard Street in West Chester for the Habitat for Humanity, “operation warm,” the club gave coats to kids in West Chester that needed one, they have helped create a medical clinic in the Honduras jungles, supporting building clean water wells in Kenya, and much more.

“The money we raise from our fundraisers whether it be the annual Chili Cookoff or our Annual Fruit Sale in the spring is a wonderful way for the public to lend a helping hand to worthy community causes,” said Jeannie McGinn, of McGinn Marketing Works and Marketing Coordinator for the Chili Cookoff.

“We sincerely thank every individual who comes out to the Cookoff, each wristband sold makes a difference in the magnitude of the change our service organization can make,” added Bill Ronayne of Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning, and also the Chili Cookoff 2008 Chairman.

“Wristbands are being sold for $10 a person, or up to Oct. 3, the wristbands are three for $25. Kids under 10 years of age can eat for free. Wristbands can be purchased at the Chambers of Commerce on 119 North High St. The wristbands allow the taste testers to try each booth’s chili samples. There will be over 50 booths set up, each with their own recipes.

Booths will be set up with cookers from businesses, West Chester Borough neighbors and WCU students. Chili will be made fresh that day on site of the competitors own booth. Teams are asked to make a minimum of 10 -20 gallons of chili and businesses will make 20 -30 gallons or more of chili.

Chili will be served starting at noon until 4 p.m. It is recommended to get to the event early as the chili samples will go quickly. The booths will serve two ounce cups of chili to the public. Second servings are allowed and the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite kind of chili. Vegetarian Chili will be available and there will be 25 vendors of non-chili.

The possible awards are People’s choice, Restaurants Division, Business Division, Non-Profit Organization Division, Hometown Cook Division, and Best Decorated theme booth award.

This year there have been some changes. Majority of the groups will serve their chili to the public at the same time and restaurants will open their booths up at 12:30 p.m. Also new this year for winners of chili awards, there will be cash prizes. People’s choice award winners will receive $300; each division award will be given $250 for first place and $100 for the best theme booth award.

The awards will be given based on the most votes from a blind testing by a commitee of celebrity judges. The judges will be McGinn, Chief Scott Bohn of West Chester and others.

McGinn said that the West Chester Rotary Club is excited to have the WCU students’ team return.

“Their enthusiasm sets the mode for the whole day,” McGinn said.

Ra Ra Chili was created by WCU students last year, will return for their second year participating. Their booth will be located on the corner of Gay and Church Street. Last year they won the spirit award and came in fourth place in people’s choice.

Mell Josephs is apart of the Rotary Club and student programming at WCU. She introduced the idea to the Student Government Association (SGA) last year, the students agreed to participant.

“(The event will) showcase students to the community,” Josephs said.

During the cook-off, entertainment will be held by various bands. The YMCA will host the “Kiddy-Korral” for kids; there will be a moon bounce and face painting. Musicians will be playing on street corners at the beginning of the event and performing a final act at the end of it.

Throughout the day, music will be played in different genres. Many of the bands can be found on The schedule follows:

12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Bob Beach from the World Cafe Live: Acoustic Blues Folk Rock, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Jim Klingler of the Philadelphia Jug Band Folk Guitar, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Michael McGrath: Classical Popular guitar, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The HANG Brothers: Swiss steel drum, and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. West Chester’s own Hoots and Hellmouth on New Street staged area.

McGinn believes that this event would not be possible without the help of the sponsors. Sponsors included Infiniti of West Chester, Blue Dog printing and design, 99.5 WJBR Brandywine Radio Station, County Lines magazine, Daily Local News, Comcast spotlight, Main Line Today, Keystone Volvo and many more.

The chili cook-off would the public know that the parking is free, restrooms will be available on Church and Darlington St., there are no pets allowed at the event and especially to save room for chili.

The Rotary Club expects there to be over 6,000 people in attendance. With the money raised, they will be able to complete their community service projects to help serve others. Visit the Web site, for more information about the cook-off and Rotary Club.

McGinn believes that an event of this magnitude and success would not be possible without the help of all our generous 40 sponsors, especially our 2008 Presenting Sponsor, Leigh Timberman and his crew from Infiniti of West Chester. This is a rain or shine event. In the case of rain, the Cookoff will take place in the Justice Center parking garage on the upper floors. Questions about the cookoff may be directed to 484-343-4577.

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

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