2000 World's Championship Chili Cookoff

It was hot!!!

With temperatures well above 100 degrees, the residents and visitors of Laughlin, Nevada, probably thought it couldn't get any hotter, but the weekend of October 6, 7 and 8th was hotter than ever before. Some 200 chili and salsa cooks converged on the River Palms Resort Casino, host of the 34th World's Championship Chili Cookoff, to determine the best of the best in the chili world. Each team had competed all year

2000 Chili Champion

Jim Weller
Bloomfield, Michigan
"Macktown Chili."

for the opportunity to join the prestigious ranks of the qualified contestants. The Semi-Finals took place on Friday evening with the five finishers being, in no particular order as they say at the beauty pageants, Randy Dietz, Bob Dyer, Kathy Hipskind, Fred Summers and Mark Sweeney. Those who weren't qualified either during the year or in the Semi-Finals got one last opportunity to do so on Saturday. The winner of the Last Chance cookoff and very last qualified contestant for the year 2000 World's Championship competition was Al Henry.

Determining a winner from this select group of cooks is no easy task and the ICS calls on another qualified group to complete the chore. Judges from all over the country with years of experience join us every year with their fine-tuned palates ready to meet the challenge. This year was no exception and we take our hats off to them and give them our thanks. Fred Wieland serves as Chief Judge of the World's Championship along with his wife, Leah, the Chief Scorekeeper. After deliberating more than an hour, tasting and re-tasting, the judges came up with the winner of the red chili competition. The $25,000 prize money, the bronze chili pot and the prestigious title of the Year 2000 ICS World's Chili Champion went to Jim Weller of Bloomfield, Michigan, and his "Macktown Chili." Jim has been cooking since 1983 and won the 2000 New York State cookoff to advance to the WCCC. Jim's wife, Georgia, won the title in 1996. The Weller's are the first husband and wife to each hold the World's Championship titles. We're looking forward to having Jim represent the ICS as Georgia has done since 1996.

2000 Verde Champion

Jerry Simmons
Florissant, Missouri,

Second place and $2000 went to Kitt Hoff from Columbus, Ohio, with her "Leprechan Chili." Third place and $750 was awarded to Joni Deere's "Red's Chili," Pana, Illinois, fourth place and $500 to Marilyn Allen, Dayton, Nevada, "I Chase Chili" and fifth place and $200 to Mike Hulka, Santa Ana, California, and his "Beehive Chili."

This is the second year that The International Chili Society has added a chili verde competition to their World's Championship. In 1999, our chili verde competition was rather small by comparison to the bowl of red, but in the year 2000, we judged 89 bowls of the green goodie. When it was over, Jerry Simmons from Florissant, Missouri, was declared the Chile Verde World's Champion. Jerry took home a trophy and a check for $2500. In second place was Dione Cooley, a veteran red chili competitor from Reno, Nevada. She went away with a trophy and $500 in prize money. $200 and a trophy were presented to third place winner, Darol Wetzel all the way from Manhattan, Montana. As you can see, our World's Championship truly is comprised of contestants from all over the country.

In recent years, to diversify the interests even more, ICS initiated another red-hot competition - SALSA! After challenging their taste buds with 80 plus varieties of salsa, our brave judges declared Mark Ward the 2000 World's Salsa Champion. Mark hales from Newhall, California, and comes from a chili family. His father, Charlie Ward, and Charlie's wife, Barbara, call themselves the Travelin' Chiliheads who cross the country each year cooking chili and sending a full report to the ICS office in an attempt to keep us all informed of what's happening everywhere. Second place

2000 Salsa Champion

Mark Ward
Newhall, California

salsa winner was Tony Flamm and Mike Ford came in third. The salsa competition is the one category at the World's Championship in which the contestants can prepare their dish ahead of time, unlike the chili verde or red chili that must be prepared on site during the scheduled cooking time. For this reason, the participants have no designated booth and the ICS staff, has no specific place to find these folks to take their picture before they turn in their salsa. We're gonna' have to work on that!

Most of the chili teams decorate their booths with a d├ęcor that represents their chili name and the team of Mike Stewart went way out there with their elaborate Baja Chili booth - winning first place. Bill Donovan and Rocky Renfro followed with second and third. We even had a golf tournament this year with the team of Sonny Allen, Dave Lorenz and Dick Swenberger the big winners.

On Saturday night, after the Chili Verde and Last Chance competition ended, a hot group of cooks, judges and other volunteers got together for a little party. It was a double celebration. The chili folks celebrated the fact that once again, we were all together to support our love of cooking chili and the comradery that is derived from it and we also took the opportunity to drink a toast to a past World Champion, Dr. Ed "Doc" Pierczynski who retired from his honest to goodness profession of doctoring in Carson City, Nevada. Doc has said that he could hardly wait to retire so that he could cook chili full time. We were happy and honored to have Cleo and Carroll Shelby attend our get together. They sat and happily chatted with each and every chilihead. Carroll had spent the day Saturday signing autographs and obliging all to pose for pictures. On Sunday, a few of his old cronies, as he calls them, showed up to share the festivities of the two-day event. Mel Larson, formerly of Circus Circus in Las Vegas, flew his helicopter over the site both coming and going and Father Duffy from Southern California came up to give the cooks his 25 years of judging expertise.

During the course of the day, the traditional Miss Chili Pepper, Mr. Hot Sauce and the Shoot-N-Holler contests kept us entertained. Claude Covington, the emcee for this year's World's Championship, made short work of keeping them all running smoothly.

The sponsors of this year's championship were Tabasco and Corona beer. Tabasco has sponsored our organization's contests for many years and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts. They brought along their terrific Tabasco clothing and "hot stuff" products, which we sold all three days in the Tabasco booth. Our very own members, Bill and Betty Storey acted as our sales staff and were pleased at the rate the items flew out of the booth. Tabasco donated a percentage of the sales back to ICS. Corona beer sent us not only 200 cases of beer to be used in our judging tent and to be sold, proceeds going to ICS 100 percent, but they sent us their best looking representative, Ann Whiting from Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. Ajijic is the site of the Mexican National Championship that is scheduled to take place in February. A faithful group of ICS cooks and judges make the trek to Mexico every year for this great event.

That's about it! For 34 years, this special group of folks that we refer to as chiliheads have gathered together to enjoy each other's company and to share this hobby that benefits so many. Through the years, The International Chili Society has raised millions of dollars for charities around the world. Next year, we'll do it all over again. Stay tuned.

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