Hi-Way takes first place in Maxwelltown Chili Cookoff

The second annual Maxwelltown Chili Cookoff had plenty of entries for residents to enjoy. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The weekend was bitter cold, but the second annual Maxwelltown Chili Cookoff heated things up on Saturday.

Throughout the afternoon, the event featured home made chili recipes presented by Maxwelltown area businesses. Participating this year was the Hi-Way Inn, the Painted Lady Saloon, Stu’s Pub, Two Slices, the Blue Waters Cafe and 522 Pub and Grill.

This year’s winners are:

• The Hi-Way Inn’s house chili took first place;

• The Painted Lady Saloon’s chili number two took second place;

• The Hi-Way Inn’s chili number two took third place; and

• Stu’s Pub took fourth place with its house chili.

Rusty Manke, owner of the Hi-Way Inn, who was one of the organizers for the event, said each business had scorecards on site with a rating of 1-5 — five being the best and one being the worst.

People were able to taste two creations at some locations. From Hawaiian to white chicken chili, there were plenty of unique creations.

“It actually went really well, this year we changed the way we do the voting so we can track to actually see how many people come through every restaurant,” Manke said. “Last year really was not set up the best.”

Last year, Manke said the first-ever cookoff saw a decent turnout.

“Last year, I would say we had right around a couple hundred people come through,” he said.

This year, he said it was just as great.

“We’ve had a great turnout. We probably had 50-60 people through already,” Manke said, about one hour into the event.

This year, Manke said the ballot counting process was simplified.

“We ended up counting all of the votes last year but it was a lot to take in,” he said. “This year, everybody will count their own. I mean you get regulars at bars, and they stay at that bar. It’s hard to track how many people go to every place.”

Cecelia Van Alstine, owner of Two Slices, said the cookoff was a great way to bring people to Maxwelltown. Since her set up was outside, Van Alstine also had a fire pit and s’mores.

“It’s not as busy as last year, but it was really nice out last year. It’s not bad considering it’s cold,” Van Alstine said. “I have just one chili today, kind of a traditional beef chili with a cheese sauce.”

Manke said they plan on making this event an annual tradition.

“We will do this every year,” he said. “This is the second one, but we are going to keep it right around the same date every year.”

Last year, the Hi-Way Inn won first place with its house chili, second place went to Two Slices and the Painted Lady Saloon took third place.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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