The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 3, 2013

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Chili event to follow Polar Plunge in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Just thinking about jumping in water when the outdoor temperature is below, oh, say 85 degrees, makes my toes curl.

And so each year that I’ve covered the Special Olympics Polar Plunge in Pittsburg, I waver between thinking the people I’m watching are out of their minds and thinking they are the bravest, most courageous people I know.

That said, a note from Eric Rosenblad, one of The World’s Best Chili Cooks, made me ALMOST (and by that I mean it increased my desire by maybe a half-percent) want to jump into frigid water in early February.

He contacted me about a new event being held in conjunction with the Polar Plunge, which is slated for Saturday. The Mo-Kan Chili Pod, which is affiliated with the Chili Appreciation Society International, is putting on its first Chili Plunge as a post-plunge warming party, fundraiser and cook-off.

Now that’s a kind of “chilly” I can handle.

The event, to be held at the First Church of the Nazarene, will feature a chili feed of “at least a vat or two,” Rosenblad said, to help volunteers warm up after their ice-cold plunge. He’s claiming it will be the best chili feed-style chili that folks around here have tasted for some time. (Translation: throw-down to the Rotarians and Elks.)

Since I still can’t bring myself to take the plunge, no matter how good the cause, I won’t be able to cash in on that part of the event. But Rosenblad said that as a member of the public, I would be welcome to bring $3 and purchase taster samples of competition chili that will be offered during the cook-off. All proceeds go to Special Olympics.

And here’s the really cool part: The event will feature a first-time cook-off for Special Olympics cooks, coached by Chili Appreciation Society International contestants.

If you’re itching to get out your spices and be a competitor, here’s what you need to know. The entry fee for cooks is $20, and chili must be turned in at 1 p.m. The cook-off will be held in the church gymnasium, which means you must provide what you need to cook indoors, and plan to arrive about three hours before turn-in time to register. Chili must be CASI chili only — no beans, fillers or “markers” to reveal your identity to the judges.

Organizers also are looking for CASI cooks to preregister to serve as chili cook mentors for Special Olympics cooks.

If you love chili, want to compete or just want to contribute to the cause, mark your calendar for Saturday. Questions? Contact Eric Rosenblad at 620-232-1330 or rosenblade@klsinc.org, or Jon Tupper at 417-439-8605.

Follow Andra Stefanoni on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

Mark your calendar

The Pittsburg Polar Plunge takes place at noon Saturday at the Crimson Villas Apartment Complex, 1904 S. Rouge St. The chili cook-off and post-plunge party will follow at 1 p.m. at First Church of the Nazarene, 816 E. Quincy Ave. Participants must raise at least $75. Details: www.ksso.org.

The Joplin Polar Plunge takes place between 2 and 3 p.m. Saturday at Shoal Creek. A post-plunge party follows at the new Elks Lodge at 1802 W. 26th St. The party will include food and a silent auction. The cost is $5 for non-plungers. To join the annual Polar Plunge, participants must raise at least $75 for Special Olympics. Details: somo.org/plunge

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