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12th Annual Chili Challenge Set for February 9

UTICA, N.Y. (Jan. 22, 2014) — The 12th annual Chili Challenge to benefit the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Francesca’s Banquets and Catering, 144 E. Main St., Ilion.

The Chili Challenge features professional and amateur cooks and the best chili in the Mohawk Valley. Traditionally held on the Sunday after the Super Bowl, the event has regularly attracted more than 300 people who are looking for a tasty way to stay warm in the dead of winter.

Media members are invited to attend a news conference to kick off the event at 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, at Francesca’s Banquets and Catering, 144 E. Main St., Ilion. Cooks, event sponsors and Red Cross officials will be on hand to explain the special ingredients that have made the Chili Challenge a Mohawk Valley institution.

“No football, no problem. The Chili Challenge is a great way to spend the Sunday between the Super Bowl and school break,” said Chris Bray, Chair of the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley Board of Directors. “This is a fun event that helps us with our serious mission of providing comfort to the people who need it most throughout the Mohawk Valley.”

The competition includes a “Restaurant League” and an “Amateur League,” with award categories in each league (Best Presentation, Most Unique, and Hottest) and an overall People’s Choice award. Visitors will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite chili.

As of mid-January, the competitors included Heidelberg Café, PK’s Pub, Sorrento’s/Salvatore’s, Dominick’s Deli and American Food & Vending in the Restaurant League, and MOVAC, Matt Powers, Marcus Neckermann, Bill & Nikki Hewitt, Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber, KVAC, Assemblyman Marc Butler and Eric Burger in the Amateur League.

The family-friendly event will also include a 50/50 raffle, beer tasting and DJ Kenny the Promo Guy with music. This is the fifth consecutive year for the event at Francesca’s.

The proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Working families in the Mohawk Valley often require emergency assistance from home fires, floods and other disasters.

For more information about the Chili Challenge, please contact Denise Snyder, American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley Board member and Chili Challenge Committee member, at 315-867-0385 or

If You Go

What:  12th Annual Chili Challenge
When:  Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9
Where:  Francesca’s Banquets and Catering, 144 E. Main St., Ilion
Tickets:  $12.00 (children 12 and under free). Available at the door. Proceeds benefit the American Red Cross of the Mohawk Valley.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook at