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NEW BREMEN — Teams of friends and families pulled out their best chili recipes to serve to festival-goers Saturday morning for an annual fundraiser.
The New Bremen EMS Chili Cook-Off kicked off at 8 a.m. Saturday at Crown Pavilion. The event, which raises money for the New Bremen EMS, is held during Bremenfest and brings crowds of people out to make and taste chili.
Jon Moore, Matt Opperman, Crag Nelson, Steve Greber, Matt Tontrep and Josh Ziggy come to compete in the chili cook-off every year, traveling from across the country to attend the event.
“We’ve got two people from Dayton, one from California, I’m from Alaska,” Moore said.
Competing as Hillbilly Chili this year, the group has previously picked up an award for best team name in the chili cook-off.
“We were Fluttering Bed Sheet Chili,” Moore said.
He noted the team has not had much success outside its best team name award.
“We’ve struggled in the past, but I think we’re going to turn that around this year,” he said.
Hillbilly Chili was popular among festival-goers, as the team gave away all its chili.
“I think we’re the only them that’s done that,” Moore said.
Hillbilly Chili started early Saturday morning to prepare for this year’s event.
“We started at about 5:30 this morning,” Moore said. “We prepped all our meat, and there was a lot of love in that meat. Craig Nelson sautéed the vegetables.”
Moore said the New Bremen EMS Chili Cook-Off is a way for the group of New Bremen natives to catch up and enjoy a weekend back in their hometown.
“It’s a reunion for us,” Moore said. “We all come back every year to compete in the chili cook off.”
For Jake and Donna Albers, the chili cook-off was a family affair. The mother-son team, Mamma’s Bucking Good Chili, competed in their first New Bremen EMS Chili Cook-Off this year, and their decision to enter came at the last minute.
“On Thursday night, he (Jake) said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Donna said, noting she already had everything they needed, as she was planning on cooking chili when Jake decided it would be fun for the two of them to enter the chili cook off.
Donna noted the chili cook-off was a way for her son to get involved in the community.
“Jake’s been away, and he just got back,” she said. “I told him now that he’s back here, he should get involved in the community a little.”
After deciding to enter the contest, they came up with a hunting theme for their team, and they sported camo attire and served chili with venison. Mamma’s Bucking Good Chili placed third in the cook-off and raised an additional $250 for the New Bremen EMS in the auction.
Donna said she enjoyed her first experience in the cook-off and was thrilled with the result.
“It was a lot of fun, and we’ll do it again,” she said.
Second place in the New Bremen EMS Chili Cook-Off was awarded to Miller Lite Fire Chili, which raised an additional $250 in the auction. First place was awarded to Cheapest Gas in Town, which raised $600 in the auction. The People’s Choice Award was presented to Chili 96.