Sunshine draws crowd
A chilly morning gave way to beautiful blue skies on Saturday, drawing hundreds of people to the downtown square in Cassville for the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Chili and Salsa Cook-Off.
"The Chili and Salsa Cook-Off this year was fantastic," said Mindi Artherton, chamber executive director. "The weather was gorgeous, the chili and salsa was delicious, our craft and food vendors offered something for everyone and there were plenty of activities to keep the kids busy.
"The crowd seemed to enjoy the pet parade and the various demonstrations," said Artherton. "Barry County Connections did an outstanding job, as usual. Lane Truman really kept things moving along smoothly and made sure everyone in attendance was well informed."
The chamber sold nearly 900 chili tasting kits, which allowed attendees to sample chili and salsa prepared by over a dozen cooking competitors.
Community members who attended the annual event also had the opportunity to enjoy performances by the Bootkickers, Cassville YMCA Gymnastics and RWTB Family Martial Arts Center. Barry County Connection provided music throughout the afternoon, and the Cassville First Baptist Church offered a variety of children's activities.
The pet parade, sponsored by Cassville Veterinary Clinic, featured an assortment of furry friends, who paraded from the Commerce Bank parking lot to the festival stage. Pet parade winners included: Bob Reinhardt and his Daschwagen, people's choice award; Jaime, Wyatt, Landyn and Addyson Moore and Marley, first place; and Nikki Allen, Roxy and Bella, second place.
The Cassville Chamber also hosted its third annual Chili Dog Challenge, which was sponsored by Sonic.
"All of our chili dog eating contestants gave it their all," said Artherton. "Sonic generously donated enough chili dogs for each contestant to eat five foot-long coneys.
"For the win, JR Woodruff was one to two bites away from eating all five dogs," said Artherton. "I think it was worth it though, after he received his $100 cash prize."
Awards were also presented to area businesses, organizations and individuals who competed in the chili and salsa contest and decorated their booths using the 1950s and 1960s theme.
The 2011 Chili and Salsa Cook-Off spirit award was presented to the Cassville United Methodist Church. Emmanuel Baptist Church won the best decorated booth award. The people's choice chili award was presented to Barry Electric Cooperative, and Western and Southern Life Insurance earned the people's choice salsa award.
Salsa winners included: the Barry County Republican Club, first place; Freedom Bank, second place; and the Barry County Advertiser, third place.
Chili winners in the community division were: the Barry County Republican Club, first place; Barry County Drug Court alumni, second place; and Cassville United Methodist Church, third place.
Corporate chili division winners included: Barry Electric Cooperative, first place; Commerce Bank, second place; and Freedom Bank, third place.
CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) showmanship awards were presented to the following participants: Cassville Cruisers, first place; Cassville United Methodist Church, second place; and Emmanuel Baptist Church, third place.
CASI's top 10 included: Emmanuel Baptist Church, first place; Commerce Bank, second place; Barry Electric Cooperative, third place; Celebrate Recovery, fourth place; Freedom Bank, fifth place; the Barry County Advertiser, sixth place; Cassville United Methodist Church, seventh place; Southwest Area Career Center JROTC, eighth place; the Barry County Republican Club, ninth place; and the Cassville Cruisers, 10th place.
Other salsa and chili cook-off competitors were: Bikers Against Child Abuse, Tresame Jines, Jimmy's Pre-Owned Value Center and the Office of Dr. Carolyn Hunter.
"The Cassville Chamber has the best volunteers," said Artherton. "Starting on Thursday night, the committee worked marking off the square. The work didn't stop there. They were helping me all day on Friday and starting at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
"This group worked tirelessly until the last vendor left the square on Saturday afternoon then back again Monday morning helping with clean-up," said Artherton. "They are outstanding. This event would not be possible if it wasn't for those that devote so much time and energy."