13th Annual Southern Illinois Chili Cookoff has record-setting day

MARION, Ill. (KBSI) – Good food for a good cause. 

The 13th Annual Southern Illinois Chili Cookoff brought a record 42 teams and hundreds upon hundreds of people to Marion Saturday, Nov. 5 to try some of the best chili the area has to offer, and to raise money for several local charities. 

Committee member David Fry said the main focus of the charities for which the chili cookoff raises money is the children of southern Illinois. 

“We really focus on the kids for this,” he said. “A lot of charities that we give our money to benefit children, so that really is what is rewarding for us is that we know that we can do that, and it impacts southern Illinois as a whole.” 

Committee Member Amber Baril is a member of the Williamson County Heartland Rotary, which is one of the beneficiaries of the funds raised at this event. 

“It’s super great to feel like you’re actually doing something worthwhile in the community that’s making a difference,” she said. “I know that we’ve raised so much money for all these different charities, so it’s really been great to know that we’re helping and making a difference.” 

So what about the chili? Different people have different tastes, but one youngster made his case for his favorite. 

“Today’s been a pretty good day, eating this chili,” he said. “The best place though I think is Team 31.” 

So, what about Team 31? Linda Benton makes her chili using the recipe her mother used from the time Linda was a child. 

“I use the same chili powder that she used my whole life, and I have to order it online now because you can’t get it in the stores, and then it has some salsa in it, but it’s not so hot that it makes you go, ‘Oh my God, that’s hot!’” she said. 

Benton said there are some additions to the original recipe, but… 

“I mean, I have to keep some things secret.” 

It’s certainly no secret that the Southern Illinois Chili Cookoff has become a staple in the community.

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