VIENNA - Judging 22 different types of chili is not as easy a task as some would expect, but five local men were up for the challenge on Monday.
The Vienna Neighborhood Watch hosted its annual chili cookoff competition with local residents, clubs and members of the township's fire and police department submitting entries ranging from very hot to mild.
Vienna police Chief Andrew Pecchio, one of the judges, said he was up for the challenge of being a judge even though it can be difficult to narrow the selection down.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
Sean McCune of Vienna samples chili during the cookoff Monday at the Vienna Fire Department. Hosted by the Vienna Neighborhood Watch, the annual event included 22 different varieties of chili along with 59 different pies.
''Your taste buds can get overwhelmed, but the bottom line is your stomach knows good chili from bad,'' Pecchio said.
Other judges included Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, Girard Municipal Court Judge Jeff Adler, Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda and Bill Shaffer of the Yankee Kitchen in Vienna.
Fuda said most of the judges were close in their selection of favorites.
''It's always hard to judge because some are sweet and some are very hot. Some must throw some sugar in their chili because there is a sweet taste to many of the chilis. There were peppers in some of the chilis,'' Fuda said.
Mary Swift, president of the watch group, said in addition to this year's 22 chili entries there also were donations of 59 pies and 17 gift baskets, with all proceeds to be split between the two safety forces for their needs. She said a small amount will help the watch group.
The event brings in $800 to $900 annually.
''It's a fun event people enjoy coming to,'' she said.
Competition aside, the event is also a popular attraction for locals.
Vienna resident John Goodworth, 92, said he is a chili lover and never misses the event. He said he prefers the medium-flavored chili.
''This is a popular event out here. There's always a crowd,'' he said.
Allan Macker of Vienna said he likes his chili to be very hot.
''I like the hottest stuff that they had. I had some of the regular chili and ended up putting some of the hot chili on top of it,'' Macker said.
Vienna firefighter Charlie Karlovic said while he likes the pies, he is a big fan of the chili.
''I figure this is all for a good cause, and if you like chili and pies this is a great place to be,'' he said.
Taking first place in the Mild chili category was the Knights of Columbus Vienna Council 13260. Lance Klinger of Vienna took first place in both the Hot and Medium categories. The KofC also claimed the title of Best Overall chili, for which it won $200.
Andy Heitikko, past grand knight of the KofC, said he is not sure what it was that helped the group's chili to win but noted they kept adding different ingredients.
''We just kept throwing stuff in and must have done what was needed to be a favorite,'' he said.