By Ron VandenBoom
It's a fantasy come true for anyone that loves the tantalizing flavor of a good bowl of chili, but it's also some pretty heavy duty competition for those who think they make a mean bowl of chili.
The hard fought competition of the Fourth Annual Chili Contest and Feed, that is.
The contest is scheduled to be held Feb. 1 at the Montana State Universtiy-Northern SUB Ballroom, and will feature two categories of the best chili north Montana has to offer - that produced by businesses or organizations and that produced at home by the loving hands of individual gourmets.
The public is invited to come and eat their fill of these tasteful creations at the all-you-can-eat chili feed that starts immediately after the judging at about 6 p.m. The cost is $3 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. Children 3 and under eat free.
The MSU-Northern Students Involved in Free Enterprise Club (SIFE) organizes the contest as a club fund raiser and is pushing to make this year's contest the best ever, said Danetta Rice, the club's president.
Six businesses, Wolfer's Dinner, The Park Restaurant, Taco Johns, The Beaver Creek Golf Course Horizon Room, Quench and Bench, and the Havre Daily News have so far said they plan on participating in this year's contest.
Businesses helping to sponsor this year's feed, but who are not contestants are Albertson's, Master Sports, Pennington's and Gary and Leo's IGA.
Lanny Wilke, faculty advisor to the club, said he doesn't yet know how many individual competitors will participate in the contest, but he knows there are a lot of people that claim to make a mean bowl of chili that would love this opportunity to prove it.
"Every year people come up to me after the contest and tell me they wanted to enter and didn't," he said. "Well this is their chance to put their chili where their mouth is and show everyone how good their chili really is."
As far as Wilke is concerned, the more the merrier.
Any business, organization, or individual is welcome to participate, Rice said.
There is a $25 entry fee for individuals and a $30 fee for businesses and organizations. The top three competitors in each category will take home prize money and, the more competitors, the greater the prize money.
Winners in each category will be determined by what Wilke said would be "blind judging," - a panel of judges that sample the chili in each category without knowing whose chili they're tasting.
Wilke said he is hoping to also be able to select an overall winner who will receive a trophy for what he called, "best of show chili."
Applications for the contest are available at the Havre Daily News at 119 Second Street in Havre or in the business office on the third floor of Cowin Hall at MSU-Northern.
Members of SIFE can also arrange to get prospective contestants an application when they call 265-4165, 265-4192, or 265-4167 and leave a message.
The application deadline is Jan. 30.