What’s better than a steaming hot crock pot of homemade chili on a chilly day?

Thirty crock pots full of chili offering a variety of flavor, spices and heat.

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That will be the scene at the Refuge in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, Nov. 1 beginning at 5 p.m., as the 4th annual Big Dog Chili Contest gets underway.

The event is a fundraiser for the Refuge Ministries programming that helps them provide services to the homeless.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mel Manning, president of the Refuge. “We have lots of good food, different prizes people can win and good gospel singers - it’s great fellowship and a great cause.”

Manning says previous years have brought in roughly 30 or so chili makers from around the community, all vying for the top “Big Dog” honors.

“They don’t win much - only a trophy and $25 (gift certificate) to the coffee shop, but they’re named ‘Big Dog,’ and that’s a big deal,” he laughed.

There will also be cornbread and other chili fixin’s there to enjoy along with the bottomless bowls, and some milk to “put out the fire.”

“People can eat as much as they want - we’ll have lots of desserts there too,” said Manning, who hopes to get some hungry people in to test out the loads of chili.

The cost to get into the all-you-can-eat hunting-themed, chili-eating event is $10 for adults, $5 or children.

Tickets are purchased at the door and will automatically get that person entered into the drawing for door prizes.

Those who can show their hunting license for this year also get a free entry into one of the raffles set up.

One of the big ones will be for a 30-06 Remington bolt-action rifle.

And for the ladies and kids, there will be a camouflage jacket up for grabs.

“They’re categorized in prizes for the ‘bucks,’ ‘does’ and ‘fawns’,” laughed Martha Rocheford, who is on the steering committee for the event this year.

Rocheford, who has been with the Refuge since the beginning, says last year the event was used as a fundraiser for her as she battled cancer.

This year, as she is feeling “great,” she says she wants to give back and help the event bring in some much-needed dollars, helping to organize everything. Her husband Terry is heading up the steering committee, and along with a dozen other volunteers, intends to make this “Big Dog” count.

“And in previous years we’ve also gotten part of the proceeds matched with a grant from Thrivent Financial, too, so we’ve applied for that again,” said Rocheford.

The event itself is known not only for the good chili, but for its camaraderie, as contestants commence their “big talking” while turning up the heat in the kitchen.

“My pastor is talking about his own entry this year, and how he’s going to have the hottest chili there that’ll make people cry,” laughed Rocheford, who says last year’s winner, Mary Jo Peterson of Detroit Lakes, will be one of the judges this year.

“So she’ll bring the silver cup that gets passed around to the winner every year,” said Rocheford.

To enter the contest, people should do so by Wednesday, Oct. 29 by calling the Refuge at 218-847-1982.

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