Chili Cook-off


For me blogging is like laundry. I am glad when I do it. I regret it when I don’t. And much like a Mt. Everest of laundry, when I find myself overwhelmed when the pile of pictures and stories to be blogged growing too big, I will avoid the task rather than simply jump in and begin.

It has been a few weeks since I sat down long enough to record the days of our lives at Patchwork Farm. It feels as though we have lived two months’ worth of life in the last two weeks. I finally have an hour to sit without any active parenting or fires to put out, so I am forcing myself to begin tackling Everest and write.

I’ll begin 16 days ago on a Wednesday when we had our annual chili cook-off at church.

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This annual event is the primary fundraiser of the year for the youth at church. Funds raised during this activity go toward the cost of their summer camps: Young Women camp for the girls 12-18 and Boy Scout Camp for our 12-18 year old boys.  

This year the chili cook-off happened a few months later than is typical, due in part to the debate as to whether this is still the best fundraising option for the youth.

As a social event it is quite successful, drawing big crowds, and is always a lot of fun, but some have questioned (including myself) whether it is the most efficient means of raising money, as much of the expense going into the event falls on the very families that are being hit with the cost of camps. I know in past years I myself have found the benefit of the fundraising effort a bit of a wash when I tally up the amount of money we put into the chili cook-off in the form of cash donations, ingredients, and the cost of buying back my children’s desserts (that I funded in the first place) at 5x the cost. 😉

Despite the debate, in the end it was decided that we would stick to tradition and the chili cook-off was a go.

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My kids were thrilled. When they heard that the chili cook-off may not happen this year they were sorely disappointed, so when it was announced as an upcoming activity they began eagerly planning the desserts they would auction off.

The chili cook-off is comprised of two parts. The first half of the night is the chili cook-off in which families donate chili or cornbread (which serve as the meal for everyone.) The chili and cornbread are judged by impartial judges (our missionaries) and winners are announced.


After everyone enjoys a filling meal of chili and cornbread and good conversation then the second half of the evening begins when we have a dessert auction so that people can bid and win their desserts for the evening.

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Since this fundraiser is benefiting the youth, the youth help run the event, including baking desserts to bring for the auction.

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This year the girls decided to combine their efforts to make special cupcakes that looked like mini pies,

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while Rusty decided to go it alone and try something ambitious and creative: A Whopper Cake!

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I was especially glad for kids that could accomplish these tasks independently as Ozzie and I spent the day in Butler for his second day of state testing. The big kids also kindly took on the task of cooking our family’s chili for the cook-off since I was gone all day.

The auction is always the highlight of the evening as friendly rivalry rears its head and families battle for the tastiest treats. It is all in good fun and results in a great cause: helping our youth go to camp.

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It was a good night.

The youth raised money.

Families enjoyed some social fun.

And everyone left with very full bellies.


Next up: Molly’s 17th birthday

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