Chili on a warm November day

Stillwater. Community flocks to the fun-filled, eighth annual Paulins Kill Lake Chili Cook-off and Cookie Contest.

11 Nov 2020 | 08:51

Despite the calendar reading November 8, the mercury climbed into the 70s. In direct opposition to the Blahs of 2020, the eighth annual Paulins Kill Lake Chili Cook-off and Cookie Contest went off on Sunday and, oh, what a turn out.

MaryAnne and Jack Choma showed off their pumpkin turkey chili.

“We had this with Stillwater friends on Halloween, and they graciously gave us the recipe to use for the competition,” MaryAnne said. “Of course, we added a few of our own nuances.”

Kelly Salerno has been helping judge the chili for the past few years. This year she had her own table, featuring two types of cookies.

“Because of the pandemic, I started baking and cooking a lot more,” she said. “I found a recipe blogger named Halfbaked Harvest, and it seemed anything I made from the site, my family loved. These cookie recipes are from there.”

The cookoff is the brainchild of Kim and Dave Williams.

“This year, we had eight chilis and eight cookies in the competition,” Kim Williams said. “People had to pre-register so we could set up tables and tents at six feet apart. We also provided gloves and sanitizer.”

Attendees who wished to be judges filled out ballots voting for their favorite cookie and chili.

Singer and songwriter Billy Ruddy provided the entertainment. and there was a fire pit going.

Old friends, new friends

The event has grown into a much-anticipated happening. All gave kudos to the Williamses for making it happen, despite the pandemic, with proper Covid protocols in place.

“It’s just such a sense of community, and so nice to be able to see friends and neighbors and meet new ones,” said Cindy Seamans.

The winner of the chili competition was Larry Davis, who entered his “Cabin Fever” chili. The runner-up was Tom Williver, with “Tom’s Trifecta.” In the cookie contest, Kelly Salerno prevailed with her “Chocolate Dipper Peanut Butter Cookies.” Jaelyn Gilmore was second with her “Hot Coco Cookies.”

“In past years, we’ve bundled up, or been drizzled on, but today was amazing,” said Cheryl Williver. “Seventy five degrees, a huge turnout — with masks on!”

“Because of the pandemic, I started baking and cooking a lot more.” Kelly Salerno