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Annual chili cook-off warms up the spirit Phillip Brents | Fri, May 20 2011 11:35 PM

A rootin’ tootin’ good time was had last Sunday at Bonita's annual chili cook-off and fair of the same name. The event, which took place in the parking lot of the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course, was sponsored by the Bonita Business and Professional Association and served as a fundraiser for the Bonita Public Safety Center and Southwestern College Police Academy scholarships.

An estimated several hundred guests attended this year’s event that featured a kids fun zone, chili teams, craft booths and food vendors, a classic car show courtesy of the South Bay Cruisers, a beer garden and live musical entertainment.

Bluegrass, America’s  homegrown contribution to the music world, is particularly pleasant to the ear at intimate open air events such as these.

Fourteen teams competed in this year’s chili cook-off. The entry field was robust, especially in flavor. Several of the chilis judged were on the spicy side this year — and that can be a good thing, especially for chili aficionados.

Judging is based on four criteria: aroma of the spices, consistency of the ingredients (how well they hold together), taste and overall appeal.

The judges’ pick doesn’t always match the people’s choice, and the same was true this year. It appears that chili has a unique appeal to the masses. Some like it on the warm side while others may find a specific or unusual ingredient that sets it apart from others.

The team from Shuckle Buckle captured first place in judges’ balloting, followed by Villa Bonita in second place and the Bonita Fire Fighters in third place.

The people’s choice this year went to the Bonita Golf Course.

My personal choice was the chili served up by the team at World Up, where awards from previous judging events attested to its quite tasty recipe.

Best decorated booth went to the team from Romesco’s. Our award for best name: Team Natural Gas.
The popular pie-eating contest has quickly become a highlight of the chili cook-off, and 14 contestants lined up for the $50 prize this year. The rules are simple: contestants may not use their hands to eat the pie, they must eat everything, including the crust, with their faces pressed into the pie tin.

This obviously produces quite a mess. Given that cherry pies were used, contestants came away from the table with bright red noses.

This year’s winner was Chris Sandt from Ocean Beach, though Evan Eason, a graduate of Bonita Vista High School and current student at Southwestern College, received our unofficial nod for brightest nose.

Miss Bonita, Megan Glibbery, participated in the pie-eating contest. But she was quickly disqualified for using her hands. No matter, she engaged in a friendly food fight with an adjacent contestant that seemed to underscore the fun aspect of the competition.

Law enforcement displays included those by the Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Department, Sheriff’s station, U.S. Border Patrol and Chula Vista Police Department.

Live entertainment was provided by Uncle Bob & the Earth Movers, Prairie Sky, Virtual Stranger and the Villa Bonita Glee Club. The popular muppet-type puppets from the Sweetwater Community Church also were back to entertain younger members of the audience.

For more information, contact the Bonita Business and Professional Association at 472-0033 or online at www.bonitacalifornia. org.

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