Avon Lake Taste of Chili Contest

Photo courtesy Heritage Avon Lake

Avon Lake Chili Contest volunteers Nadge Herceg and Doug Rider serve chili samples during last year's chili contest that is a popular fundraiser for Heritage Avon Lake. This year's chili contest is Saturday, Nov. 9.

AVON LAKE - A meaty kind of tradition with a little bit of spice will spoon out who's got the best bowl of chili in town this weekend.

The 17th Annual Taste of Chili contest will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Avon Lake United Church of Christ, 32801 Electric Blvd.

Tickets are $15 each and include a "blind" taste of all chilis from area restaurants, hot dogs, rolls, homemade desserts and raffles. The contest is one of the biggest fundraisers for Heritage Avon Lake, the city's historical society, which is hosting the event,

The contest, which is expected to attract 300 to 400 people, usually raises about $2,000 for the group, said Sandi Gehren, Heritage Avon Lake treasurer and chili contest coordinator.

Tickets can be purchased at www.heritageavonlake.org and picked up at the door, or they can be purchased at the door the day of the event.

The Taste of Chili Contest started as a fundraiser to help save the Folger Home from demolition, Gehren said, and it remains popular.

“You never know who'll be among those serving the chili — usually city leaders or prominent people in town such as the mayor," she said.

Six Avon Lake restaurants are competing: Rio Cafe, Novotny Catering, Gita's Table, Breakwall Cafe', Jake's on Lake and Johnny's Boathouse.

Breadsticks from four area pizzerias also will be available, Gehren said.

The Taste of Chili contest also will feature raffles and gift baskets donated by area businesses and organizations, including a 50-inch Vizio Smart TV and a basket of fire prevention items donated by the Avon Lake Fire Department.

Johnny's Boathouse will be defending its title. Owner Poncho Balquacs, who also won best chili in 2008, said he hopes his chili remains competitive.

"It's a secret recipe," said Balquacs, who will be making 5 gallons of chili that is expected to ultimately fill 45 bowls. "It's not too spicy or filled with a lot of tomatoes. I just try to make the best chili that I can."

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com, or 440-871-5797.

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