1/17/2018

The Big Chili Cook–Off is a Big Help

Red–hot chili volunteers support local firefighters

chili cook-off volunteers
By Chris Lynch
Freelance Writer

Cash prizes, trophies and bragging rights await the champion chefs at the Big Chili Cook–Off at the Music & Arts Festival held annually in Evergreen, Colo.

But the big picture here is not about the competition. A local Kiwanis chapter manages it as an annual fundraising event and the net proceeds help support six local fire departments.

They are the big winners.

“It's great that the community turns out to support the event. These fire departments rely primarily on volunteer firefighters, and they have to pay for their own gear. But they can get help from Big Chili,” says Dave Krieves, event volunteer and retired physician. “One department even paid for part of a new fire truck.”

Krieves found himself with free time after retiring from a private medical practice that kept him busy for 29 years. With that, he moved to this quiet, unincorporated community, joined a local Kiwanis chapter and dove headfirst into the Big Chili event the club manages.

“These fire departments rely primarily on volunteer firefighters, and they have to pay for their own gear. But they can get help from Big Chili.”
– Dave Krieves, Kiwanis member

Volunteers make up a great majority of the workforce–many of them retired. Krieves recently did a three–year run serving as coordinator of that crew.

That's 300 volunteers.

“There are so many logistics. Bands, beer trucks, artist booths, stage rental, other vendors. We have people recruiting chili cooks, there's a parking coordinator, beverage coordinator, front gate coordinator, judges. We trade off and do different things,” he says. “We have a paid event director with a lot of connections, and she brings in the business sponsorships, radio personalities and bands.”

And then there's the chili. Up to 800 gallons of the delicious concoction representing categories for red, green and veggie. The cooks are actually volunteers–restaurant owners, firefighters, club members and other locals.

Kim Herfurt and Larry Olde are longtime Kiwanis volunteers and avid chili cooks.

Herfurt is a retired teacher and specializes in green chili. “My recipe hasn't been perfected yet, but I keep cooking it. I smoke 32 pounds of pork shoulder and use two bushels of green chiles,” he says. “It's a lot of work, but it's fun. And it's not about winning. What I like to do most is help out friends.”

Olde is a retired retail professional who has been cooking chili for this fundraiser and its origins going back 40 years. “Kim does green chili, so I do 15 gallons of red chili, but we work together with prep, cutting up peppers and so on. I took third place twice, but we win no matter what with proceeds going to the fire departments.”

If you attend the event held annually on the Saturday after Labor Day, come hungry. The volunteers, committees and cooks all work diligently to ensure the thousands of attendees get plenty of chili.

There are lots of bands and beverages to enjoy, too. Admission is a great value and it supports a worthy cause. Net proceeds this year for the fire departments was $27,000, and it has been as high as $37,000, recently.

Now, that's some Big Chili.

Consider the blend you want in your retirement. Visit Jackson.com .

The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and individuals quoted and should not be construed as a recommendation or as complete. Chris Lynch is not affiliated with Jackson National Life Distributors LLC.

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