On February 9, the aroma of fresh garlic, cumin and special ingredients filled the air inside Charles A. Conklin Post 28, where a dozen teams – competing for the top prize of “Best Chili” – offered their tastiest recipes to a capacity crowd during the post’s annual Chili Cook-off event. “As the temperature drops outside, the excitement builds inside,” said Past Post 28 Commander and Chili Cook-off Committee Chair Phil Smith. “The excitement in the crowd’s eyes and anticipation on their faces creates a fun and positive atmosphere.”
Planning for the event begins in August, where volunteers - including Post 28 Riders and SAL - arrange all aspects of the event including promotion, ticket ordering for tasting, securing of all licenses (with guidance of the post manager), clean-up crew, contestant booths and raffle prizes. Day-of set-up begins at 7:00 AM with contestants arriving around 9:00 AM to prepare their chili recipes. Doors open to the public at 11:00 AM with Post 28 Riders serving hot dogs as the clock ticks down to the magic hour when chili tasting begins. Six anonymous judges – seated in a secluded room inside Post 28 - rate each chili recipe. The 2019 Grand Haven Post 28 Chili Cook-off 1st place award for “Best Chili” went to the team of Doc Waldie and “Ripper.” Big smiles on the faces of Smith and the post manager signaled that the event was a success. “We are blessed to have such dedicated and wonderful volunteers at Post 28 and positive alliance with our local community,” noted Smith.