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21st Annual Nebraska State Chili Cookoff

21st Annual Nebraska State

Chili Cookoff

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gering, Nebraska


1st Place Red Chili

1st Place Green Chili

3rd Place Showmanship    

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 wild chili.

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 their concoctions.

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 summer foods.

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 results)

Cheryl Rupp and the Bahamas' Mama’s took the State Title in a tough Showmanship contest.

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 places left.

3rd place went to Judy Haberman of Gering Nebraska – the highest she had ever placed in any cookoff! 

2nd Place went to Pepe’s Pod’s own Great Pepper – Kyle Haberman (and Judy’s husband)   

1st Place (insert drum roll here ) went to Steve Lee of Longmont, Colorado

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

Event Photos




And now to the Winners: (data posted when received)










Steven Lee

Longmont, Colorado



Kyle Haberman

Gering, Nebraska



Judy Haberman

Gering Nebraska








































Steven Lee

Longmont, Colorado





























Steve Lee 

Warriors of the Crimson Pepper

Longmont, Colorado


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