MVY Big Chili Contest attracted a hungry, thirsty crowd

Crystal Roy and daughter Leanne Cash volunteered at the P-A Club. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Updated 10:30 am, Tuesday, Jan. 29

The 27th annual Big Chili Contest, hosted by WMVY radio, put some spicy heat into a cold winter day on Martha’s Vineyard this past Saturday.

Thousands of hungry, thirsty revelers traveled to the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs Saturday to shake off the winter blues. They were joined by locals who count the Big Chili Contest as a winter holiday.

“We had more than 2,800 people attend the Chili Contest and the Red Stocking Fund will net more than $37,000 this year. It was the most successful Chili Contest in its 27-year history,” wrote Greg Orcutt, MVY Radio General Manager, in an email.

“It was bigger, and better,” said Kerry Alley, co-director of The Red Stocking Fund. “We’re so grateful for MVY and Mike Santoro and the P-A Club. They’re ridiculous.”

Competition for the best chili was fierce with 28 vendors competing, with a whole year of bragging rights on the line.

The team of Brian Athearn, Steve Jordan, Katie Jordan, and Tom Rancich of West Tisbury won the amateur chili contest, the fifth Mr. Athearn he has taken top honors in that division.

The Black Dog Tavern was judged best in the professional division.

The party benefited the Red Stocking Fund, which provides food and gifts to local families in need during the holidays and throughout the year. The money raised from the Chili Contest will go to gift certificates for food given out to families later this winter, and the Fund also helps out with emergency situations throughout the year.

“As long as we have money, usually from the Chili Fest, in March when most families have struggled through the winter and with fuel bills, we send out another round of gift certificates, about $14,000 or $15,000 worth,” continued Mr. Alley.

For MVY, there was an additional reason to celebrate. On Friday, the station announced it had reached its goal of $600,000 in pledges, which will enable it to broadcast on the Internet through 2013.

Final results

Professional category: 1. Black Dog. 2. Quahog Republic from Onset and Falmouth. 3. J.R. Brody’s Roadside Tavern (Jen and Chris Palmer owners) East Falmouth.

Amateur category: 1. RunAmok Farm, West Tisbury with organic lamb, pork, and venison chili. 2. Chris Silva (Bump and Grind Chili) two-time champs from Falmouth. 3. Bob Costello (Official Chili) from Carver.