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Recap; Chili Cook-Off

By, Michelle Hazekamp

October 25, 2022

The Comfort of Fall

It's that time of year again for autumn color scapes consumed with varying shades of red, yellow and orange, cool breezes, comfy sweaters and warm comfort food. And be it no surprise, it's the perfect time for a Chili Cook-Off competition!

Local Candidates Provide the "Goods"

The Muskegon County GOP celebrates fall each year with their annual "Chili Cook-Off" fundraiser, whereby contenders conjure up their best recipes for all to taste and judge. This year's chili cook-off, held at Whitlow's Forerunner on Saturday evening, was no small feat, as we had many more chili entries than prior years. Every year different contestants are assigned to partake and submit a chili, whether it be executive committee members, candidates or GOP members. Last year the GOP's executive committee took on the challenge, but with this year being an election year, it was up to the local candidates to provide the goods.

Taste Buds Challenged

A variety of 13 chili's were subjected to test, each one unique to it's own taste. White chicken chili to sweet and spicy challenged the taste-buds of each attendee who would submit a vote once finished sampling each for their chosen favorite. Winners were considered for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place, each receiving a medal to honor their success.

Competition within the Competition

Each year during the chili cook-off, there is “behind the scenes” competition of sorts, occuring between County Commissioner, Doug Brown and Pastor Tim Cross. Pastor Cross is a usual first place winner and Commissioner Brown typically comes in second. It is difficult to compete against the two of them when considering any type of competition involving food, as they are both amazing cooks. Pastor Cross submitted an amazing sweet chili this year, but Commissioner Brown took his a step further by smoking a brisket overnight for the main ingredient in his chili. And for the first time, Commissioner Brown took 1st place. Pastor Cross came in 2nd and Reeths Puffer School Board Candidate, United States veteran Bill Ryder came in 3rd with his awesome white chicken chili.

Visions of Sweetness

Typically, with all our fundraiser events, we conclude with a “prize auction” of donatated items, but for this year's Chili Cook-Off we decided to try something different and keep it “food” oriented by holding a dessert auction instead. Many brought in home-made pie's, cakes, cookies, fudge, etc., and outnumbered the chili entries by a lot! The table that displayed the mass collection of desserts was a mouth-watering vision of sweetness and the event as a whole resembled a huge family holiday gathering.

Reminiscing to 2020

As I reminisce back to the first “Chili Cook-Off” sponsored by the current Muskegon GOP Executive Committee, we began as a small group of patriots whom had come together for a common cause in fighting against a tyrannical governor, all the while backing a President who was fighting a bigger evil to preserve our nation and our Constitution. That day began with a "National Freedom" road rally organized by Ryan Kelley. We had at least 50 cars participating; all displaying Trump & American flags to end at an outdoor chili competition in a park pavilion on a cold October day dressed in winter attire. We have come a long way in the numbers who have joined our clan since and the support we have acquired enabling us to do much more.

(2020 National Freedom Road Rally (Treason Trailer) & Chili Cook-Off)

Although many of our original clan were not present Saturday due to other events occuring at the same time, there were many new faces that were a pleasantry to meet, welcome and socialize with, along with other familiar patriots who have joined us in the past year or so. All have become a part of this ever growing, like-minded (or should I say “common-sense” minded) family, and being an organization that maintains Christian values who honor God, we have truly been blessed by the friendships gained and what we have been able to accomplish through Him!

Being in the midst of a battle between good and evil, it is by His grace we are able to enjoy moments like the Chili Cook-Off to relax and have some fun, yet edify and strengthen one another for the battle ahead. The 2022 Chili Cook-Off was another success of good food, family & fun.

Proverbs 27:9 - A sweet friendship refreshes the soul

1 Thessalonians 5:11 - Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing


Michelle Hazekamp is a Muskegon County business owner, Delegate and Chair of the Communications Committee for the Muskegon County Republican Party and currently a candidate for Muskegon County Commissioner in District 3.

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