More than 1,500 people filled the Westgate Mall on Wednesday afternoon to taste 60 different recipes for chili.
The eighth annual United Way Chili Cookoff event is the kickoff for the United Way's fund-raising drive.
Of the 60 chili recipes, Widseth, Smith and Nolting won the taster's choice award. Of the 1,500 tasters, only 10 people tasted all 60.
The county's social service administration took first place in the booth decorating contest. They used the theme from the popular TV show, "Survivor."
The county's social service staff members followed in second place. The theme they used was from another popular show, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", but with a twist. The booth was called, "Who Wants to be a Chillionaire?" Mike Brick of Brainerd won the "Chillionaire" contest by answering the question correctly, receiving the game "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" that Target donated.
The question was: What year did the United Way chili challenge begin? Answer: 1993.
Third-place winner was the Parent Mentor Program, which also took third place in the best costume competition.
The first-place winner for best costume went to Consolidated Telephone, which had a Mexican theme, and second place went to Integra, which had a Western/cowboy theme.
Greg Larson Sports took first place in the chili competition at the corporate level. Office Shop took second and Northwood Turf and Power finished third.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency had two teams and each placed in the top two spots in the nonprofit level for the chili competition. The Cuyuna Regional Medical Center placed third.
KTCF-FM placed first in the restaurant/celebrity category with WJJY-FM taking second and KLIZ third.
Entertainers for the event were Lenny Lehman, who was the disc jockey, and Leisha Teitz, who sang.
The United Way's goal for the drive that ends in November is $385,000. This money will then be distributed to the 34 United Way agencies in Crow Wing County.
The pacesetter teams that began raising money for the drive early raised more than $36,000 or 20 percent more than last year's pacesetters. Acrometal raised $9,214, Clow Stamping raised $16,000 and Riverwood International collected $10,800 for the pacesetters.
Gary Walters, second vice president of the Brainerd Sertoma Club, challenged area organizations to match the club's donation of $2,500. The VFW No. 1647 donated $500 and the Brainerd Jaycees gave $1,300.
Iian Olness, who presented the check for the Jaycees, won the jalapeno pepper eating competition by eating 13.
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