Bob Slicker (general manager of The Swordfish Grill & Tiki) invited us to go with him to the Parrish Heritage Day Parade & Chili Cook Off held at the Florida Railroad Museum to take pictures, fly the drone and write a story, because he was invited to judge the chili. So, of course, we went! What a great day!
The proceeds from this festival go to The Parrish Foundation, Inc. which is a 501c3, tax exempt, charitable organization. This is their annual fundraising event. They raise money for community projects such as the new Community Center and they’ve also awarded grants to several nonprofits in the community like Manatee County Youth Rowing, Food Ministry, and Take Stock in Children, to mention a few. They are always looking for volunteers and donors and appreciate all the community does to support them.
We saw the end of the parade and then when we got to the Judging Tent we found out that there were some judges missing, so Sande (editor of The Suncoast Post and President of Sande Caplin & Associates ) volunteered to do it. Bob and Sande, with six other judges, each sampled more than a dozen different chilis from the contestants. I never realized how many different types of chili there are! A total of 28 different chilis!
Before he went in to judge the chili, Sande and I were shown through the train car that houses the miniature train village by Stanley Kotas (President MRD Coordinator of the Florida Railroad Museum). Wow! The attention to detail is amazing and Mr. Kotas was so kind in showing us everything of interest in there as well as telling us about the time and effort it took to make this happen. I strongly suggest you go check them out!
The Florida Railroad Museum also offered $3 train rides to the folks that came to the Festival. They took them 2 miles north and then came back to the station. Everyone I saw that went had the best time! The Museum has special events throughout the year with “Day Out With Thomas”, from Thomas & Friends, coming up March 13-15 and March 21-22.
After the first round of judging the chili we walked to all the booths and Bob and Sande and the other judges critiqued all the chili cooker’s ‘spirit’ at their tents. They were all different degrees of intense and everyone looked like they were having a blast! We walked all around the festival and saw a fun Kid Zone where they were having obstacle races, a petting zoo, and pony rides. More rides at the entrance included bungee jumping and rock climbing.
We came up to the stage where the band Hologram was putting smiles on everyone’s faces. We saw the students from Kim Betts’ Gamble Creek Studios perform and they sang really well! And then Ari & The Alibis (who happen to be one of my favorite bands) finished the live music part of the Festival.
What a fun and huge crowd! I was told this was the most attended annual Chili Cook Off event to date. This is their ninth year and it just keeps growing. We hope to go again next year!
Photos from The Suncoast Post