by Mckayla Hull
Tucson Firefighters Local 479’s personnel are whipping up their best chili and promoting it, all in the name of Adopt-a-Family.
The 23rd annual Tucson Firefighters Chili Cookoff is from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 3, at the Reid Park bandshell.
“We have 24 different booths designed by firefighters with different variations of chili and chili dogs. The chili can go from just about anything – spicy, mild and vegan,” says charity director Nick Janton.
The contestants are not only judged by their chili, but the creativity of their booths.
“We don’t have anyone really getting crazy with their chili, but with their booths, it’s a different story. They’re judged on their chili and booths, and some are incredibly elaborate. One group had a pirate ship. They get really creative. They have a great time.”
This isn’t a cozy event, as more than 10,000 people are expected to attend. The cookoff will feature a kids’ zone, alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks and local vendors. Janton is hoping the event raises about $75,000 for its Adopt-a-Family program.
“Our Adopt-a-Family was developed to provide food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmastime for families identified by the school system or fire personnel who go on the calls,” says Janton, who says they created 1,200 food boxes last year.
“Eight years ago, we decided to include toys and clothing for children. The more we bring in, the bigger it gets.”
Next year, the organization is hoping to expand the program by offering scholarships to those pursuing careers in firefighting or EMS.
“This is a great cause, so I’m hoping we see a lot of people come down for the event,” he says.