Chilling in Grand Lake during the 37th annual Chili Cook-Off |

Chilling in Grand Lake during the 37th annual Chili Cook-Off

Mel and Diane Fitzhenry get ready to serve their chili on Saturday in Grand Lake as part of the 37th annual CASI Chili Cook-Off.
Amy Golden /

Diane and Mel Fitzhenry quickly ran out of their award-winning chili on Saturday in Grand Lake.

The 37th annual Chili Appreciation Society International Chili Cook-Off brought out big crowds over the weekend. Folks carried tiny cups to sample the more than 30 chili recipes in red, green and salsa categories from 20 cooks.

“This is amazing,” Diane Fitzhenry said of the turnout Saturday. “Every year we’ve come up to Grand Lake, this town supports.”

The Texas-based Fitzhenry’s have been cooking chili competitively for 39 years. Diane Fitzhenry got seventh out of 150 competitors at the Texas Ladies State Chili Championships this year and was the champion in 1992.

Chili cooking is a weekend hobby for the couple that helps raise money for local charities as they travel to compete. Their last time in Grand Lake was eight years ago.

The funds from the contest in Grand Lake will go toward the new Troublesome Stories exhibit, a display capturing the story of last year’s East Troublesome Fire that opened to the public Tuesday.

“We tell everyone in Texas about it — every dog and every person in town comes through here,” Diane Fitzhenry said. “This is one of the bigger public supports, so whatever Grand Lake is doing they should keep doing it.”

Along with chili samples, Saturday’s events also included live music by Hunker Down and the Chiliers.

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