Bryan County’s die-hard chili competitors took over the pavilion at J.F. Gregory Park Friday night for the 15th Annual Chili Cook-Off & Christmas Tree Competition. From 6:30-8:30 p.m. the area was swarming with people and filled with the hearty smells of chili.
Organizers said the turnout was one of the best that the competition has seen.
While adults sampled chili from 18 different participants, children could sit with Santa for a picture or jump on bouncy houses at the far end of the pavilion. The United Methodist Church also had a children’s choir that sang Christmas carols throughout the evening.
Richmond Hill resident and first-year-attendee Corey Brooks said, “We came to support some companies we know that decorated trees, and to be part of the community, and eat some chili!”
If picky eaters were present, there were plenty more options other than chili, from cotton candy to turkey legs, ice cream to shrimp gumbo — there was something for everyone.
A dozen local businesses and organizations competed for the title of Best Christmas Tree, judged by the Richmond Hill Middle School Art Club.
Christa Pittman, a real estate agent with Re/Max Accent, said, “It’s our first year competing, and we thought it was a fun way to get in the holiday spirit with the community.”
The winner of the competition was F.R.I.E.N.D.S of Coastal Georgia. Second runner up was Team Savannah for Veterans, and the third runner up was Floor & Décor.
The Best Booth award went to Jonathan Haley of Coastline Management.
“It’s fun to do, and I’m competitive,” Haley said with a laugh.
Richmond Hill’s City Center also set up a booth for their fifth year in a row: “We always come back — it’s a lot of fun!” said manager Caitlin Young.
A total of 18 participants entered into the chili cook-off, with the Grand Prize going to the Richmond Hill Exchange Club. First runner up was Bryan Lodge #303; second runner up was Floor & Décor; third runner up was Faze II Ryderz. The People’s Choice Chili was Century 21 Way Station.
“It’s a great event for the community,” said Mayor Harold Fowler. “It’s the biggest crowd we’ve had. It’s a beautiful night for it, and as usual, everything in Richmond Hill goes great.”