Red Stocking is real chili winner

Staffers at the Atlantic Connection, which donates the club to the Red Stocking for the Big Chili Contest. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Cheery staffers line the balcony railing at the Atlantic Connection, which donates the club to the Red Stocking for the Big Chili Contest. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Pat Waring - February 2, 2006

Gallons of chili, plenty of spice, talented fun-loving chefs, hundreds and hundreds of hungry and enthusiastic patrons, loud Mariachi music, and a goodly number of Coronas (with lime, of course) combined with a great cause, the Red Stocking Fund, and a beloved venue - the now defunct Atlantic Connection - to make the 20th annual Big Chili Contest Saturday maybe the biggest and best ever.

The fun, festive, and generally crazy event, for two decades a highlight of frosty Island Januaries, raised $17,000 for Red Stocking Fund, which provides Christmas gifts for needy Vineyard children. A delighted Barbara Silvia, Red Stocking treasurer, proclaimed the $17,000 a record.

Staff members from contest sponsor WMVY, AC and Seasons personnel, and Red Stocking volunteers worked hard and long to make the day a winner.

A total of 21 inventive chefs, both professional and amateur, concocted pots of their best chili, set up colorful tables, laid out garnishes, donned costumes, and did their best to woo votes from the crowd. Chili tasters from on and off Island packed the popular nightclub for one last rowdy party before it closed at the end of the post-chili party, which featured Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish and other local musicians.

The AC and adjoining Seasons Pub were literally wall-to-wall with a crowd that was estimated at 850 over the course of the four-hour event. But jolly revelers somehow found room to sample the chili, socialize, and even dance and do the limbo. Many patrons took a moment to linger on the balcony, surveying the crowded and colorful floor one last time.