Newton Falls – It may only be June, a time when residents are finally out and about enjoying the warm weather or trying to find someplace cool to rest from the humid air and hot sun, but for one local organization, conversation has already begun about a different kind of heat. The Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary, who sponsors the Annual Chili Cook Off every fall, is planning for this year’s event and needs your hep! Soon to celebrate its 25th year of chili competition, the Cook Off is the most popular and well-received event that raises funds to benefit the town’s fire department, Station 43, and assists the local first-responders in obtaining vital equipment such as an inflatable boat for river emergencies that helps them help those in distress as well as advanced personal gear such as oxygen tanks and fireproof clothing to keep them safe while doing it.

ChiliPotThe festival itself features nearly two dozen contestants, who all  make their special chili recipe from scratch, right on the spot, starting at 11am the day of the event. Some are there just because they love to make chili, some come for the bragging rights, and some absolutely have one goal in mind: the $500 grand prize. But deciding which team’s chili will walk away with that prize – and the other prizes of $300 (second) and $200 (third) – is no easy task! Understandably, the organizers are in search of local residents who love chili to come cook, come eat (Chili Cups go on sale after the judging and allow you to sample any and all entries) and, most importantly, come judge! Though anyone who attends the Chili Cook Off has the option to purchase a vote and have their say in the People’s Choice award, the Auxiliary is specifically looking for seven brave community members who would be willing to taste every chili and help decide the score for the grand prizes.

To keep the final results as fair as possible, these official judges must be unaffiliated with the Newton Falls Joint Fire District and any of the teams who are entering the competition. (The unofficial requirement is that one should have a strong stomach or at least a tolerance for all manner of spicy!) Past judges have included townspeople, business owners, members from other emergency departments and even local celebrities such as radio station personalities. Once judging commences, the elite panel members are reasonably sequestered while the chili is served to them from coded containers so the only person who knows which team’s chili is in which jug is the assisting volunteer who scooped it from the pots! (And she’s not talking!)

If you’d like to participate as a judge for this year’s Chili Cook Off and help determine the winner, please contact the Newton Falls Firefighters’ Auxiliary IN WRITING at P.O. Box 472, Newton Falls, Ohio 44444. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just your name, information such as phone number and address, and a brief sentence saying why you are interested in becoming a judge.

Applications for cookers and table vendors will be open soon as well, so everyone can mark their calendars for Saturday, October 4th and join Station 43 in commemorating twenty-five years of chili celebration!