Cook-off & cars

Karl Schafer, lead chef for the winning Karlacci?s Italian Chili entry, shares a laugh with two of his many tasters during the Saturday showdown. Don Ratzlaff / Free PressChili chefs at Marion County Park and Lake brought out their best recipes Saturday?slaving away for hours in preparing just the right concoction to win favor with the voting public.

Spicing up the eighth annual event even more, said Steve Hudson, superintendent, was that this year?s first place finishers topped off their already good fortune with one of the sons making a marriage proposal.

Travis Schafer, the son of Karl Schafer, asked Nicky May of Junction City to marry him.

?This was also the first time we had a marriage proposal at the chili feed,? Hudson said, adding that what better way to celebrate than as gondoliers, which symbolize romance.

Adding to this memorable experience, he said, Karl and his two sons were dressed as Italian gondoliers and made Italian chili.

?Karl has won second and third place in the chili contest quite a few times, but this was the first time he was the winner,? Hudson said.

According to sources at Peabody Elementary School where Travis is a fourth grade teacher, his soon-to-be bride, Nicky, teaches at Seitz Elementary School at Ft. Riley.

The second -place winner was Barb McCurdy of Goddard, who has taken first place before, Hudson said.

Third -place honors went to Jim Bratt at Valley Center.

Even though Schafer went away as the top chef, Hudson said everyone there was a winner because all the proceeds will go toward planting new trees damaged by drought or needed in specific areas.

In addition, the chili cook off attracted hundreds of people having the opportunity to sample some 18 different types of chili.

?We sold 264 tasting kits, which was up from last year?s 241,? he said.

The addition of a car show at this year?s cook-off drew a lot of interest.  Free Press photo by Don RatzlaffCar show

Another first this year, Hudson said, was the car show.

?It went well,? he said. ?The planning for it started about a month ago and involved a different group of people putting it together.?

With county employees organizing the chili cook off, Hudson said he appreciated the car enthusiasts getting the show together.

?When visitors parked their cars, they could go through and see the old car and then get to the chili cook off,? he said.

One of the more intriguing entries was a German-made Amphicar from the 1960s (right photo), which can transport its passengers on land or in the water. About 4,000 of the amphibious automobiles were manufactured from 1961 to 1968. Free Press photo by Don RatzlaffA total of 16 cars were entered, and six of those were from Marion County.

?It was an open class show and we had cars ranging from a 1931 Model T clear on up to a 1991 Jeep,? he said.

Along with the older and newer cars, Hudson said there were also Harley-Davidson motorcycles, an amphibian car and anything and everything.

With the variety of cars, the judging was similar to how the chili cook off is decided.

?The general public votes on their favorite chili by dropping a bean in a cup (with the most beans deciding the winner). For judging the cars,? he said, ?a painted washer is dropped in the cup.?


The first place winner at the inaugural open class car show, he said, was Norman Hacker of Andover with his 1957 Chevy Corvette.

Second place went to Jeremy Davis of Wichita for his 1967 Chevelle, and in third place, Hudson said Jeremy Campbell of Hutchinson received the nod on his 2014 Sprint car.

As if there weren?t enough ?firsts? at this year?s event, Hudson also said Laura Hasenbank and Douglas Schmidt had their wedding Saturday, too.

The total amount received from the chili cook off/car show was $2,469, he said.

?We have already set a date of Saturday, Oct. 18, starting at 9 a.m. to plant trees,? he said.

Prior to the planting, Hudson said he is hoping to get a backhoe from the county?s road and bridge department to help with the process.

?We want to also plant some trees around the beach area, too, because we sure would like to have shade at the lake events,? he said.

Money will dictate how many plants they will be able to get buy, though.

As for this year?s cook off, Hudson said he was more than pleased.

?It was a good time and the weather was beautiful,? he said.

With all the things that happened at this year?s event, Hudson said, it could be hard to top next year, but they are going to try.In their first effort at the Marion County Lake chili cook-off, the Thompson family from Wichita?father Kenny, daughter Jessica, and mother Lorilee?serve up another cupful of their ?Cloven Hoof Chili.? The Thompsons weren?t among the winners but said they were having a great time trying. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

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