Last updateFri, 01 Mar 2013 7pm

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Cookoff shines with fun, sun, big winners

With a weekend of perfect weather and all the sweat and tears of a huge band of volunteers, the 35th Mexican National Chili Cookoff was a whopping success, drawing more than 8,000 visitors to the Tobolandia water park fairgrounds.

 Crowds warmly applauded a varied and lively entertainment program, lapped up all sorts of tasty treats at the food booths, guzzled gallons of ice cold drinks to wet parched whistles, and shopped ‘til they dropped in sprawling outdoor bazaar that has appears to have become the event’s centerpiece and prime money-maker.

If the event had any short-coming it was the actual chili cooking competition, with only 12 entries in all presented over the three-day run due to lower than expected enrollment and a number of last-minute cancellations.  The second annual Margarita mix-off fared better, with seven out of the ten entry spaces filled. Deserving a pat on the back for taking up the challenge, we’ll include all the contestants in this year’s winner’s circle.

Friday, February 22

Margarita competition. First Place: Greg Ochs, Lucy Rascon and Mike Mers; Second Place: Linda Fossi and Barbara Sgroi; Third Place: Paul Burnworth and Christie Prine; Also Ran: Antonio Diaz and Salvador Macias-Restaurant El Patio, Bob Dietz and Fred Breedlove, Jason Taylor-Café Adelita, Cesar Roman and Victor Leon-Restaurant Los Telares,  

Restaurant Chefs Chili. First Place: Faye Potter - Armando’s Hideaway; Second Place: Alvin Tung - Number Four; Third Place: Antonia Diaz - El Patio.

Saturday, February 23

Home Cooks Chili. First Place: Linda Fossi; Second Place: Yvonne Chin; Third Place: Tom and Patti Gates; Also ran: Dixie Vaughns, Rich Birkett, Christine Olszewski and Peter Bryant and Chuck Balnis.

Sunday, February 24

Tournament of Champions Chili. First Place: Bobbie Rush; Second Place: Alvin Tung.

There were plenty more winners in chililand, including the folks who walked away with more than 225 gift certificates and goodies donated by local businesses to the Cookoff’s multiple raffles.  Sunday’s grand prize of two-night/three-day vacations at Roberto’s Quinta Cuyutlan Guest House went to Ute Thibeau.

The second annual Cruz Roja Duck Race was also a smash hit, pulling in around 75,000 pesos from stakeholders in the lazy river rubber ducky runs. Prize winners were Carol Taylor (La Nueva Posada gift certificate) in heat 1; Liz Gavin (Roberto’s Restaurant gift certificate) in heat 2; Jinny Taylor (Super Lake gift certificate) in heat 3; and Julie Jarvies (grand prize of a one-week stay at a Puerto Vallarta condo) in the final race.

Not to be forgotten are the hundreds of individuals who benefit from the eight charity organizations that share Cookoff proceeds: Casa de Ancianos Chapala, Centro de Desarrollo Ajijic, Cruz Roja Chapala, Lakeside School for the Deaf, Los Niños de Chapala y Ajijic, Los Niños de San Antonio, Love in Action Center, and Programa Pro Niños Incapacitados del Lago.

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