Who’s chili? Competitors, residents turn out for charity event on hot, humid day

ESCANABA – The United Way of Delta County kicked off its fundraising campaign Tuesday with the 19th annual United Way Soup’r Chili Challenge.

Hundreds of people filled the U.P. State Fairgrounds’ Ruth Butler Building Tuesday night to take part in the event, which allowed those in attendance to sample 12 soups and 13 chilies made by many community restaurants, businesses, organizations and other groups. The fundraiser is a community awareness event that raises a couple thousand dollars toward the United Way’s $250,000 goal.

“This is a big party for the community to let them know that it’s United Way time basically,” said United Way of Delta County Executive Director Julie Mallard. “This kicks off our fall campaign and then we’ll be fundraising until the end of December trying to raise $250,000 for our community. We’ll take that money and we give it out in grants to our member agencies and their various programs.”

Participating restaurants, businesses, and groups started cooking their chilies and soups at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with many decorating their booths to the event’s “Story Time” theme.

“This event is really more to get people in to learn about the United Way and get them excited about the campaign, hopefully, so that when those pledge forms come around in their workplace, they’re going to go ‘Oh yeah, United Way. I know about this,’ and they fill out their pledge,” added Mallard.

Firefighters from the Brampton and Ford River Township volunteer fire departments served as judges for this year’s Soup’r Chili Challenge, choosing their favorite restaurant and non-restaurant soups and chilies. Those attending the annual event also voted for their favorite overall soup, chili and booth display.

The winners of this year’s Soup’r Chili Challenge Awards were presented with trophies to commemorate their victory.

Hereford & Hops’ cheesy steak and potato soup won the People’s Choice Award for best soup. Terrace Bay Inn was awarded the People’s Choice Award for best chili. Great Lakes First Federal Credit Union’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed booth won the People’s Choice Award for best booth.

The Judges’ Choice Awards for best soup – restaurant and non-restaurant were awarded to the Coral Reef Grille of the Island Resort & Casino and Delta County Credit Union, respectively. The Island Resort & Casino’s Five Bridges Pub and “Pick Rick” Micheau won the Judges’ Choice Award for best chili – restaurant and non-restaurant, respectively.

“I do appreciate everyone coming out on such a warm evening…,” said Mallard, during the awards presentation. “It’s wonderful to see the crowd we have tonight and Delta County is just a wonderful community.”

Mallard reminds community members wishing to donate to the United Way of Delta County that they have many ways they can make their donations – whether by cash, check, credit card, or pledge. For more information on donating to United Way of Delta County, call 786-3736 or visit www.uwdelta.org.