It was all very...


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There was chili, of course. And there was beer. Oh, there was beer. At the 29th Annual API Chili Cookoff, held at the Ford Wyoming Center on Saturday, February 19, 2022 there was everything that makes Wyoming great - all under one roof.

This year's theme was 'Video Games,' and none of the entrants disappointed with their booth decorating. Nostalgia was in full swing on this day and Mario served as the cookoff's unofficial mascot.

There were Nintendo's and Sega's and Rock Band's (Oh my!). Actual video game systems were hooked up to televisions, providing the kids in attendance with a babysitter while mom and dad drank, just like in the '80s.

But the real star of the show was, of course, the chili. Dozens of red and green chili options showcased just how culinarily creative Casperites really are.

Best of all, all of the money raised went to various local non-profits.

"We come because we like to support the community and we like to give back," said Deyonne Jackson of Wicked Wrench Garage - the eventual 1st place winner in the red chili category. "This is a great way for our money to go to local things that really help out kids and the community. I'm a teacher, so I actually see those impacts right inside the classroom."

When all was said and done, more than $146,000 dollars was raised for these local organizations. This year, the money raised went to a variety of local organizations, including the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, Make A Wish Wyoming, the Jason's Friends Foundation, Mimi's House, and more.

"There are so many great places this money is going to this year," Jackson said. "And the money stays local. With so many other fundraisers, the money doesn't stay local. But with this one, you see the impact right away in our community. And that's why we do it."

That is, probably, why most of the entrants do it. They know that the money they're helping raise is making a difference right where they live, right at home, right in their community. Community was also big theme of the API chili cookoff. Throughout the entire day, the mood of the event was a jovial one.

People were smiling. They were laughing. They were shaking hands and patting each other on the back and comparing recipes and toasting their beers. It had been a couple years since the last chili cookoff, due to COVID-19, so this event felt like somewhat of a homecoming. And people were happy to see each other.

"It's super fun because it's kind of like a networking thing almost," Jackson said. "You see people and, especially with our business, people are like 'Oh my gosh, I didn't know you were back in business.' It's also great because we've had two years away from all this, so it's been really great just to see people. It's Wyoming; we're super friendly. And I think that this event just really brings us all together."

Indeed it did. Hundreds of Casperites gathered at the Ford Wyoming Center to eat chili, drink beer, play video games, and give something back to their community. And, a few people made a lot of money.

Various entrants won awards for 'Showmanship,' and Compression Leasing won the 'People's Choice' award. But it was Wicked Wrench Garage and Fortress Development Solutions who took home 1st place honors for their red and green chili, respectively. In addition to the award, both teams also pocketed $17, 345, which is not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

In fact, the API Chili Cookoff wasn't a bad way for anybody to spend a Saturday afternoon. It was a place to see friends, to drink beer, to eat chili, and to raise money for some pretty incredible local organizations.

The 29th Annual API Chili Cookoff was a success, in every sense of the word. Because when Wyomingites are tasked with doing something to better their community, their collective response consists of just two words:

Game on.

29th Annual API Chili Cookoff

The 29th Annual API Chili Cookoff took place on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper.

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