Saturday, July 14,
1st Place Red Chili
1st Place Green Chili
If the cook’s party
the night before was a hint of what was to come, the 21st
Annual Nebraska State Chili Cookoff was surely going to
be something special. Fried Chicken Baked Beans, Potato
Salad, Cole Slaw – the list went on and on. A perfect
summer menu for a bunch of hungry chili cooks. Whether
it was to bask in the camaraderie of other chili
aficionados or just exchange "BS" and catch up on old
times, the cook’s party the night before was huge
success. A great job was done by Pepe's Pod on this one.
Dawn broke the next
day crisp and clear. Early risers arrived at the
cookoff site and were eager to get the event started.
Breakfast burritos were provided by none other than
Pepe's Pod Great Pepper himself, Kyle Haberman. (some of
us went back for seconds.) After everyone had their
fill, the cooks gathered for the cooks meeting. Four
States in all were represented for this 21st annual
event. A mix of old timers and first time entrants,
promised to treat the crowd, and the judges, to some
Soon the laugher of
children and the rhythm of music filled the air. And
the breezes were filled with the zesty aromas of
Chili’s, Beef and Beans all simmering away – drawing the
crowds in and creating anticipation.
The chili was hot,
but the weather was hotter! The crowds gathered
underneath the canopies set out by the local Jaycees to
keep cool. Beer, hot dogs, and free watermelon kept the
crowds at bay while the cooks put the final touches on
The multitudes were
well entertained by the fierce Showmanship competition
that was underway. There were Dragons, Jail Cells,
Jesters, Parrots, Cactus and Divas at this one. By far
this was the most entertaining group of cook’s in the 21
year history of the event!
Just as temperatures
peaked into the high 90’s, it was turn in time. Red
Chili, Green Chili, Open Beef and Open Bean were all
consumed with gusto. A hot summer day, with great
As the levels in the
chili pots dropped, the anxiety of the chili cooks
rose. Who would the fates be kind to? And whose hopes
would be smashed on the jagged rocks of despair?
The crowd did not
dissipate at all when the chili ran out; they also
wanted to see who would be the Nebraska State Champion!
And then a hush fell
over the cookoff site, as the cookoff organizers made
their way to the stage.
The Nebraska State
Green Chili Crown went to Steve Lee of Longmont
Colorado, for the 3rd time.
The State Beef Title
went to (awaiting official results)
The best open Beans
in Nebraska were handed in by (awaiting official
Cheryl Rupp and the
Bahamas' Mama’s took the State Title in a tough
And then it was time
for the big one. Who would walk away with the top
prize? One by one the cooks headed for the stage as
their numbers were called. And then there were only 3
went to Judy Haberman of Gering Nebraska – the highest
she had ever placed in any cookoff!
went to Pepe’s Pod’s own Great Pepper – Kyle Haberman
(and Judy’s husband)
(insert drum roll here ) went to Steve Lee of Longmont,
All in all, the members
of Pepe's Pod, who did the work, should give themselves
a pat on the back for a job that was well done!
For a slideshow of this wonderful event, press on
the button below