So Hot, The Chili Had To Be Cooked At The Spring Creek Volunteer Fire Department

Published 5:13 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

On Saturday, Feb. 20, as you drove down Spring Creek Road towards the Spring Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s grounds, you could just feel the energy in the air.

No one had to give you directions, all you had to do was to follow the scent of chili and feel the vibrations of fun that surrounded the area. Then, you came to the place where there was a good, ole fashion Southern festival. Lots of great chili, lots of vendors and lots of “Come sing along” music.

Most festival goers first headed straight to the chili. Everyone wanted to make sure that they had a taste of each and every entry. Some festival goers weren’t sure which chili was the one that made their mouths water the most! The judging duties went to professional cooks from A Bushel And A Peck, Crave, and Paces Fish Camp. The lucky winner of this $200 first prize was Donn Haviland. There also was the People’s Choice for most popular chili. This winner was chosen by the eaters who, when they bought their tickets to taste, voted for which one they liked the most. They could vote as many times as they had bought tickets. This prize went to Lupe Pequeno, who proudly went home with $125. The meal ticket prizes went to Jim Tomlinson and Martha Lamoree.

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After the festival, Donn Haviland shared some of his secrets for making award winning chili. He related that he was inspired by his love of SPICY food, the type that should have a sign warning people to keep it away from pets, open flames and unsupervised children. He had been experimenting with chili for a very long time before he even chose to enter the competition.

“I made chili almost every weekend for about three months leading up to the contest”, tells Donn. However, Donn did not feel that his recipe was nothing special. Obviously, it was.

All of this involved a lot of trial and error cooking. He made the final decision on a recipe in which he adds dark beer and cocoa powder along with real hot peppers such as Serrano’s. Donn enjoys making lots of dishes. Most recently, he had been using a smoker, cooking pork sausage and beef roasts, to see which tastes the best.

He then tells us that he entered the contest to see how his chili measured up against the other chili cooks and also to benefit the Volunteer Fire Department with a donation.

Some of the other cooks stated that working on chili is 99% perspiration and 1% sauce. Others stressed that you need patience and slow cooking to make a good chili.

Local bands and singers provided toe tapping sounds, which just bubbled up like the springs in our Lake Seminole. Featured singers were Patrice Parker and Larry Hornsby. Willie Miller and his group entertained the crowd with blue grass music. The featured band was fireman Ben Barlow’s family, Georgia 3, which featured solos by Crystal Thomas. It was great to set down, relax and eat some chili before going on to see all of the vendors and the wares for sale in the Country Store.

This was a Country Store that lived up to the name. It was stocked with a large selection of homemade jams and jellies. Just looking at the happy colors made you want to spread them on your toast in the morning. Assorted canned goods, and pickles with some Southern staples like hot peppers of various tastes and degrees of warmness that are perfect for that ever popular fish fry. Along with these culinary offerings were homemade craft items like colorful quilts that would dress up any bedroom.

Many smart shoppers were browsing and buying throughout the many outdoor vendors. They were purchasing all types of items, buying that one of a kind gift for that one of a kind person for an up and coming occasion or to use for themselves. So many items were for sale, from cuddly stuffed animals to fantastic jewelry made by a crafter who created delicate earrings, necklaces and more from scraps of metal. When it came to colorful items, who could resist the brilliance of the display of stain glass, depicting an array of fish, birds and other things. You could also find items to stock your kitchen. Some of these were hard to find terrific kitchen offerings, ones that you need to go to a specialty shop to find. They were here, at the festival.

When walking by the Reynolds Chapel bake sale, you get a feeling of nostalgia. These ladies have a reputation for the best baking skills in the area. Made from old family recipes, there were homemade cakes of all kinds, their colorful icing glistening under their clear plastic tops. Pies which you just know have that fantastic crust that is begging for a fork. Oh, we can’t forget the homemade cookies! Oatmeal, raisin, chocolate chip! Talk about melting in your mouth! Desserts that you don’t want to save for last because you want to have enough room to eat it all!

If you love to dream and imagine catching that award winning fish, there were bass boats from Boyds Marine in Dothan, Alabama. For the speed lover in you, there were brand new Chevys of all kinds from Action GM for you to drool over.

With the Volunteer Fire Department, it was safety first as they had ½ pound ABC Fire Extinguishers on sale for at an affordable price. Also on sale were Fire Department T-shirts. Another lifesaving item that was there for you to see was the new rescue boat that the Sheriff’s Department is now equipped with. This is something that will save many lives on our Lake Seminole.

The Ladies Auxiliary, Volunteer Firemen, First Responders and EMTs as well as the Board of Directors pulled out all of the stops to make this year’s Chili Cook off an event to be remembered. Everyone worked hard for many months to make this an enjoyable time. Of course, no Southern gathering is complete without the fellowship of touching base with friends – old and new. It’s the camaraderie that good food, good music and good friends that brings about the fun.