The Friends of Hillsville, in the manner of “The Ghost of Christmas Present,” proved community is the spice of life and the most important secret ingredient in chili, with its second Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout Saturday.
“We (The Friends of Hillsville) are very happy with how everything turned out,” said Organizer Ammie Shupe. “Great weather, great teams and great turnout. Our volunteers are awesome and are the reason we can put something like this together and our sponsors make it financially possible. Our sponsors really stepped up to the plate this year.”
According to Judging Coordinator Greg Talley, a total of 16 teams competed in the Shootout this year. The event also had another tie breaker with Virginia Tech football players Marshawn Williams and Steven Peoples stepping in as guest judges to break a tie in the open chili division to decide second and third place.
International Chili Society (ICS) professional Ron Keys (Death Row Chili) won first in the red chili competition for a second year. (Billy Semones of “Hillbilly Chili” was second in the pro division.) Keys also won first place in the Judges’ Choice Chili open division with Aleighthia Bolt of Cox Reality in second and Eric Shupe of the “Weekend Warriors” team in third. (Dorothy Kinnaman and Keith Joyner received honorable mention in this division.) Shupe and his fellow “warriors” also grabbed People’s Choice honors in the chili division.
Vera Horton of Austinville was first in a field of seven entries in the cornbread competition with Greg Alger of Willis finishing second and Teresa Bolt in third. Shupe was first in the Judges’ Choice salsa division with Olivia Juarez in second and Daisy Juarez in third. Joy Keys (Ron Key’s wife) captured top honors in the ICS salsa division. VFW Post 1115 was honored for its support of the Shootout this year as stage sponsors.
The teams involved in this year’s Shootout included Ron Keys, “Death Row Chili;” Billy Semones, “Hillbilly Chili;” Terry Riggins, “Hometown Chili;” Bob Fleisher, “El Bobo Grande;” Scott Lawson, Serv Pro; Keith Joyner, “Joyners Chili;” Aleighthia Bolt, Cox Realty; Isaac Murrell, “Red Hoth Chili Preppers;” Eric Shupe, “Weekend Warriors;” Leanna Suratt, “Gas Monkey;” Dorothy Kinnaman, “Front Porch Chili;” Marty Rivera, “IG Joes Chili Rockers;” Kathy Guynn, “Sisters Power of 3;” Neal Thompson, “Chilly Neally Chili;” Gerald Goad, Clerk of Court and Gary Adams, “Mean Bean Chili Cookers.”
“EZ Throwers” Mark Edwards and Jonah Edwards of Mount Airy captured first in the Shootout Cornhole Tournament. Galax’s Jeremy Coe and Travis Musick of “Team Coe” were second. In third was Hillsville’s Tony Largen and Charles Edwards of the “Old No. 7” team.
The Shootout wasn’t lacking on local flavor with local band “Stagecoach” providing musical entertainment, actors Stu Shenk and Kay Cox performing scenes onstage from the historical drama “Thunder in the Hills”and members of the Night Watch Haunt also entertained crowds at the competition.
“Star Wars” themed team, “The Red Hoth Chili Preppers” earned “Best Booth” honors. Members of the team insist their chili was discovered among abandoned munitions by Imperial Troops following their victory against rebels on the Ice Planet Hoth. The Imperials synthesized the blend, which became as popular among their ranks as it was for the rebels.
Neal “Neallie” Thompson said using his family’s Christmas decorations was a way to get his “head elf” and daughter Avery involved in chili competitions.
VFW members Marty Rivera and Gary Adams (with teammate Brianna Rivera) were going for bragging rights in the event, with the name of Rivera’s chili inspired by Comedian Bill Ingvall’s routine where his children couldn’t pronounce the name of GI Joe correctly. Rivera said family member Heather’s nickname of “Barbie” came from this because the family believes “she left Ken for IG Joe.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]