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Cheer by the Bowl: Local Residents Support Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund Chili Cookoff

After four years, members of the Columbus Fire Department finally got to sit down and chat with the public Friday during the lunchtime version of the Cheer Fund Chili-Cookoff.

They have missed being able to socialize with friends and neighbors face-to-face at an indoor Chili-Cookoff, CFD spokesman Capt. Mike Wilson said. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the last sit-down Chili-Cookoff was back in the fall of 2019.

Many patrons who came during Friday’s lunch version at the Forge on Fourth said they also missed having a good time while also helping disadvantaged kids to receive Christmas gifts.

“It’s nice to be able to walk downtown at lunchtime, see everyone’s faces and have some good food” said Audrey Walters, who was joined by family members including her brother, Austin Whitted.

“With the holidays approaching, its nice to gather in a warm place, get out of the cooler weather, and just be with friends and family,” Whitted said.

With a consistent number of visitors throughout the lunchtime event, there were over 40 people in attendance at any given time during the lunch hour at the Forge on Fourth. While there were 11 different recipes of chili created, only four choices were made available during the inside event. All varieties were made available during the Friday evening drive-thru.

In recent years, the Cheer Fund Chili-Cookoff, considered one of the largest fundraisers for the holiday charity, offered only carry-out in the evenings. It was carry-out again Friday evening, but not because of a health risk. Cheer Fund co-chairman Ben Noblitt said it was to allow patrons to get their food quickly , so they could head to the big 7 p.m. football game. The Columbus North Bulldogs were hosting three-time defending Class 6A state champion and No. 2-ranked Center Grove.

The lunch-time version was more of a revival than a new event, patron Leslie Smith said. Several years ago at the old Commons, chili was served for the downtown workers, she said. Smith said she has attended the Chili Cook-Out for more than 20 years.

On the Cheer Fund’s Facebook page, some details regarding the different types of chili were posted.

But some firefighters such as Cody Ross only revealed three ingredients: elbow noodles, medium heat and lots of love.

Unique dishes include the one provided by Jeremiah Tracy that came from his grandmother’s recipe. She added roast beef to her chili.

In contrast, Jake Hempstead turned to his sister for a recipe, which includes Italian salad dressing. And Tyler Bullard showed he was truly a Hoosier at heart by adding bacon to his batch.

Most people use caution when ordering retired firefighter Bob Tempest’s chili. Tempest, who retired in 2006, grows his own peppers and isn’t afraid to use them, Noblitt said.

There was once a competition among firefighters to see who could make the hottest chili, Tempest said.

“But over the years, it kind of faded out, so I’m the only one left who still makes it,” he said.

Source: Therepublic