LAKE TWP.  On Jan. 16, the weather was cold, and the area was bracing for a major winter storm that was fast approaching. None of that stopped the seniors inside the Lake Community YMCA from keeping warm by tasting different chili recipes in a friendly competition and chili cookoff.

Polly Moss, an instructor at the YMCA and also coordinates the senior events, said the YMCA held a chili cookoff two years ago and had a baking contest last year.

“We decided to go with the chili cookoff again this year,” Moss said. “We had 10 homemade chilis this year for the team of judges to taste and award. We try to do two or three activities a month with our senior group. Sometimes we go for activities and sometimes we do an event here at the YMCA.”

The chili recipes were judged by Lake Local Schools Superintendent Kevin Tobin, Hartville Fire Chief Mike Lorentz and Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea. There were awards given for Best Vegetarian, Hungry Man, Three Alarm, So Good it’s a Crime and many others.

The top three awards went to Donna Richards (Blue Streak award), Olin Ledgerwood (Best of Show) and Terri Mackil (Best Name for a Chili). The three judges tasted all 10 of the chilis.

Both Dordea and Lorentz said the competition was strong and determining the winners was difficult.

“Very difficult choice this year, they were all fantastic entries,” Lorentz said.

Dordea agreed, “I liked that there were a variety and a diverse selection of chilis to judge.”

Donna Richards won the top award, the Blue Streak. She said she has been making her chili for twenty years and that her four boys grew up eating it.

“It’s not too spicy and it’s nice and meaty,” Richards said. “It’s a great chili for a crowd of people. I put in plenty of meat, plus there are onions, green peppers, tomato sauce, garlic sauce, chili powder, brown sugar and kidney beans.”