At some point two chili recipes probably taste the same.

I didn't reach that point as I made my way around to about half of the offerings at the 13th annual Chili Cook Off Contest held at Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers on Saturday. About 45 chilis were presented in a variety of categories with proceeds going to the Andrew Lawrence Memorial Scholarship Fund. Organizer Bill Lawrence said about 800 people turned out with about $8,200 raised for scholarships. He says those numbers were similar to last year.

Lawrence said he is always impressed with the variety of chili recipes and that no two taste the same. He says each year a few people, usually with a flushed face, tell him they tried every chili available. Some unique items in the chili this year included elk meat, Blue cheese, pizza flavoring and dark beer.

Crowds were shoulder-to-shoulder at times around the chili tables, but Ritchie Brothers has an area of tables out of the main hall to sit and visit. Many children raced around the seats in the auction area of the building.

Award winners were named Saturday night.

  • People's choice, red: Patti & Benjamin Jessop (#34)
  • People's choice, white: Kubicek family (#36)
  • Chef's choice, red: Dan Sawyer (#17)
  • Chef's choice, white: Don & Deb Weinrich
  • Flame award: Dave Domino (#19)
  • Grand champion, red: Craig Allen
  • Grand champion, white: Ryan Sanford (#12)
  • Owatonna's best chili, restaurant: Hy-Vee

Bill Lawrence said he is grateful to the community for their support of this event and the generosity shown. The event remembers Andrew, whose life was cut short in September 2003 when he was struck by a car while riding his bike. Andrew was involved in several sports and enjoyed playing the drums. He attended St. Mary's School in Owatonna.