The Choctaw Casino & Resort KOA recreational vehicle park hosted a two-day chili cook-off over Memorial Day weekend which drew 152 entries on Saturday.
The top five finishers automatically qualified for the international cook-off this November in Terlingua, Texas. Also, the Oklahoma chili championship will return to Durant on Labor Day weekend.
Between the campers, cooks and sponsors, it’s obvious that these annual events have turned our town into the chili capital of Oklahoma. Make some room, world’s largest peanut!
The first place cook for the 29th Southwest Open Chili Championship on Saturday is Gil Hewlett of Tyler, Texas. He has qualified for the international event for eight straight years, and his first visit to the Durant event qualified him for a ninth trip this fall.
On Sunday, 75 cooks turned in chili, with Larry Russell of Shreveport, La., taking top honors in the North of the Brazos Pod contest. Both events are fundraisers for various charities, with $2,500 going to KOA’s Care Camps.
Chili cooks and show teams came from a variety of locations, including all over Texas and Oklahoma, Illinois, Mississippi and Kansas. The 30th annual event will return to Durant in 2013, but first the local KOA site will host the state championship on Sept. 1-2.