Jaycees Chili/Salsa Cook-off cooled off by rain

Tammi Keller, chairperson of Saturday's No-Holds Barred Chili/Salsa Cook-Off, did not let the rain stop the chili judging.

At about 5 p.m., Carson City received torrential rain and lightning. The National Weather Service estimated between a quarter of an inch and inch of rain fell in localized areas. Those who remained at the festival huddled under white vendor canopies or tried to stay dry under the wooden side veranda of St. Charles Hotel.

Drip, drip. There were few dry places. The rain poured and lightning crashed close by.

A determined and extremely drenched Keller, made sure the chili cook-off continued on. One Styrofoam chili container by another, she ran with the contestants' prized recipes to the only truly dry place, the entrance to St. Charles Hotel.

"I'm feeling like I need to get them judged," she said. "I don't want (the contestants) to come out for nothing. Come rain, lightning, whatever, we need to get (the judging) done."

Mayor Ray Masayko, one of the chili judges, said the rain had been following him all day. With plastic spoons in hand, and beverages aplenty Masayko and the other judges dipped into the Styrofoam containers. Doc's Secret Remedy took first place.

"It wasn't really hard (to judge)," said Gerrit Lyzenga, a first-time judge at the cook-off. "It's trying to remember which is which."

Kelly Kelly, also a judge, came to the festival with her husband between 3:30 and 4 p.m., and expressed disappointment about the rain, but was happy she was able to support the Jaycees.

"We had a chance to walk around and look at the booths and taste the salsa," said Kelly, who has lived in Gardnerville for 14 years. "I feel bad this has happened. This is so strange. Usually you have 10 minutes of this and it passes by."

Despite the rain, sheriff candidates' Ken Furlong, Wayne Fazzino, and Bob Guimont did not get wet in the dunking booth, as planned. Although the booth was broken, water was in ample supply. Candidate Scott Burau was out of town and donated $100, but Furlong, Fazzino and Guimont still made an appearance.

Lori Brown, president of the Carson City Jaycees, said she was thrilled the candidates came and said she enjoyed meeting them. The cook-off, run by the Jaycees, supports the Happy Feet program, providing shoes for schoolchildren. Brown said, so far, this has been the most successful year.

"It's been awesome," Brown said. "We've had a great turnout with vendors. It can only get better."

In it's fourth year, the cook-off included two more chili competitors and, for the first time ever, a salsa competition. Also, 17 beers were on tap for purchasers of the $10 wristband. Luce & Sons, the El Dorado and Capitol Beverage donated beer for the event.

Harley Davidson Financing, this year's largest contributor, donated $1,000 for the second year in a row, and the sheriff's department donates money for the Jaycees Happy Feet Program, as well.

Many vendors packed up, including Lisa Arnold, a resident of the area for more than five years. She sold hot dogs and hamburgers, in support of People 2 People, a bowling sports ambassador program.

Even with the unusual downpour, Brown's unstoppable smile showed her enthusiasm for the event to continue on as planned.

Musician Larry Nair would still go on at 7 p.m.

And Jaycee member, Tammi Keller, was one hero of the day, and, definitely, the wettest.


Chili winners:

1st) Doc's Secret Remedy

2nd) Big Guy's Chili

3rd) Great Balls of Fire

Salsa Winners:

1st) Mama Dela's Salsa

2nd) Your Mama's Salsa

3rd) Kevin's Salsa


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