Winner crowned at annual chili cookoff
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Dave Logan
Don Bedinger of Carlsborg serves up some of his winning chili to Nancy Slowey of Port Angeles on Saturday.

The Hungry Bear Cafe on U.S. Highway 101 near Beaver was the site Saturday of the 11th annual Bear Creek Potluck and Chili Cookoff.

Of the 16 entrants, the winning chili, as chosen by a panel of judges, was made by Don Bedinger, 39, of Carlsborg.

This wasn't Bedinger's first rodeo.

He and the cookoff go all the way back to the very first one, back in 2002, when Bedinger also took first place.

The contest, according to Hungry Bear Cafe co-owner Debbie Johnson, started 11 years ago as a way to raise money for an ailing neighbor. Now, it's all just done for fun — and bragging rights. Winners get a medal and a T-shirt.

“Previous years, we awarded trophies, but this year, with the Olympics going on, we decided to do medals,” Johnson said.

They may become a staple of the contest.

“The folks really liked them,” she said.

Bedinger, who drives his own log truck when he's not cooking chili, came in third last year, and his wife, Kim, took second.

The medal he won this year was awarded for a concoction he called Chicken Chorizo Chili.

The tastings were blind, Johnson said.

“We numbered the bowls, so no one knew whose chili it was except the cookers,” she said.

In second place this year was Wes Romberg of Forks.

Taking third place was Rick Perry of Carlsborg.

Debbie Johnson and husband, Gary, sponsored the event, providing burgers for the crowd along with a hay scramble for the children, in which they hid $60 worth of coins in piles of hay.

Last modified: September 09. 2012 6:20PM
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