, Muskogee, OK

January 26, 2013

Chili sales raise money for livestock show

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Ten pots full of chili, ranging from extra spicy to sweet, were offered to those who gathered in the Muskogee High School Show Barn on Saturday evening.

Mike Garde, superintendent of Muskogee Public Schools, said he couldn’t think of a better way to raise money than a chili cook-off.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “This is my first sampling, and it’s very good chili. Not too spicy. This event is great for our kids.”

About 150 people came out to the first annual Muskogee High School Show Barn Chili Cook-off. Each one paid $5 for a tasting bowl and spoon, then traveled through the line, picking and choosing from the many selections. Many of the chilis were named something unique, such as “WyTy Delight” by Alesa O’Neal, “Secret Meat” chili, made from deer, and “Lone Ranger Motorsports Racing Stripes Chili.”  

Kathy Howard, who teaches sixth grade at Pershing Elementary, helped head up the event and said this year they wanted to try something new.

“We usually have a bingo night,” Howard said. “We really wanted to do a chili cook off this year. The money we raise here goes to fund the local livestock show in the same barn.”

Howard also said they were offering a chance to win an all-terrain vehicle to further help their cause.

“We’re calling all of our chili makers sponsors,” she said. “They are each helping raise money for our kids. And at the end of the night, we’ll be giving prizes for the best chili, the spiciest chili, people’s choice, and the best decorated booth.”

Plenty of crackers and lots of cold drinks awaited the parched patrons, whose mouths were in various stages of distress, based on which chili they decided to sample. Conversations at the tables were largely centered around how many bowls each person had tried, and what they planned to try next.

Cody Pearce, the agriculture teacher at MHS, said his program has gotten a lot of support from the Booster Club, including the cook-off.

“This is a good fundraiser,” Pearce said. “It gets us a lot of exposure. It really offers people a chance to come out and see our facility and show them we really do have a vibrant agricultural program here.”

Michael Howard, a sophomore at MHS and an FFA reporter, said he is an active member of the FFA and enjoys the support from the Booster Club.

“I show goats, cows, and I also have a heifer,” Howard said. “The money they raise for us tonight will go towards some of the prizes for the local show in February. It also helps buy everyone who shows a hoodie. Things like this help us out a lot.”

Janie Williams, secretary at MHS, and Cindy Kane, a teacher at MHS, both sat next to their superintendent while they sampled bowls of their favorites.

“They keep giving us too much,” Williams said. “I haven’t gotten close to eating it all yet.”

Kane agreed.

“The chili is great, but it’s more than I’ll ever be able to get through,” she said.

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or