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Rotary’s Chili Feast — Fun, food, prizes…

HIGHLANDS– The Rotary Club held their 32nd annual Chili Feast last Saturday, with over a thousand local fans and friends turning out to eat Chester Stasney’s famous chili, to bid on a few auction items in the live and silent auctions, to hear the great music of the Pic N Grin band, featuring Joe Hausberger, and of course to hold their breath while the tickets for the raffle were pulled.

Commissioner Sylvia Garcia had the honor of pulling the first ticket stub from the tumbler, and the consolation prize of an MP3 player went to Jay Burger. But the main event, a raffle on a new 2007 Chevy Silverado Pick-up truck from John Keating Chevrolet, was won by MaryLu Hill, after waiting for several hours for the tickets to be pulled and cataloged, one by one.
The raffle process is known as a reverse draw, and as each of the 500 ticket stubs is drawn from the tumbler, winners of consolation prizes are announced, and the time draws closer when only two tickets remain. Then, the two ticket holders step up, and one of them wins.
MaryLu Hill of Highlands let out a scream, as she realized the last ticket stub was hers. She had purchased the ticket, as she did so many other years, from her former father-in-law, Robert Creel, one of the oldest Rotarians still in the club.
Creel can remember 32 years ago, when the club was just starting the idea of a Chili Feast fund raiser, and later a car raffle. In 1983 they had a used Cadillac convertible as the prize. That year, Gladys Burton won the car, and drove it for many years. She was there Saturday also, supporting the club and telling her history making story to all who would listen.
As always, Rotarian Chester Stasney was in charge of cooking of the chili, which has become almost as famous as the club’s reputation in the district for fund raising and community projects.
Last year, the Houston Rotary District 5890 presented the club, and its then-president Steve Miller, with the top award of Club of the Year, from the 58 clubs in the district.
Chester was talking about his Chili recipe with another cooker, Raymond Gonzalez of Foodtown, when they revealed their secrets:
CHILI RECIPE FOR CHESTER’S FAMOUS CHILI:
140 lbs. lean ground meat
140 lbs. chili mix (water and chili seasoning, from El Jalepeno supply)
60 lbs. cheese
100 lbs. chopped onions
Makes 280 pounds of chili, serving approximately 1000 hungry diners.
Other prize winners, and the order of tickets drawn, in the Raffle were:
1st- MP3 Player, Jay Burger
50th- Gas Grill, Randy Rice
100th- Camcorder, Richard Vickers
150th- 5pc Wooden Patio Furniture, Judy Robinson
200th- Digital Camera, Brad Michalsky
250th- Home Theater System, Gwin Fosnight
300th- Flat Screen TV, Bruce Russell
350th- 270 cal. Rifle/Scope Combo, Ty Zycha
400th- $500 Gift Certificate, Stepehn Lambert
450th- 5×10 Tilt-bed Trailer, Bubba Crawford
499th- Laptop Computer, Dawn Mullen
500th- 2007 Chevrolet Classic Silverado 4 door Pick-up, MaryLu Hill
Chairman of the Chili Feast this year was Charlie Ward, with assistance from all the club members, wives, Scouts, Chinquapin Rotoract club, and the Henderson cooking team. Club president is Johnny Gaeke, past president is Steve Miller.
Music was by Pic N Grin, and the auctioneer was Ken Garcia, assisted by Constable Ken Jones, and Bill Hendrix of the Northshore Rotary Club.
The Chili Feast is traditionally held the first Saturday of February. It took place in the social hall of St. Jude’s Catholic Church on Main Street.