There isn't an institution in Surface Creek Valley that has formed a stronger bond of mutual respect and affection with the community than the Cedaredge Volunteer Fire Department has.
Ample proof of that was on display at the Department's annual Five-Alarm Chili Cook-off event for AppleFest, a department fundraiser that really was much more than that.
The community responded to the call for chili with a record 81 donations of homemade versions of the dish, no two the same. But more than that was the feeling of an almost palpable sense of a community saying "thank you" to the volunteers. Once again, last summer, their dedication and skill were put to a severe test as the firefighters quickly contained the Surface Creek Fire – an extremely threatening, wildland blaze that broke out suddenly in drought conditions and endangered a lot of valuable residential property, all of which was saved.
Conversely, the department members staged an event that was professionally and thoughtfully set up and conducted in a manner that conveyed a sense of appreciation and thanks for the support they receive from the community.
Volunteer firefighters attended the event in uniform dress, some displaying their badges and other emblems of professional attainment. They gave the entire event a professional and rightly finished feeling.
All of the department's modern, meticulously maintained equipment was parked on the firehouse apron for public inspection. The cookoff event serves as a chance for the department to have an "open house" and to showcase the top-line fire fighting and safety equipment the volunteers train on and use in their work helping keep local residents and their property safe.
Volunteers had a big photo display set up that showed local taxpayers and department donors exactly the kind of training and work the department does. The display included shots of the Surface Creek Fire and the big McGruder wild land fire from several years ago.
Inside the firehouse, the volunteers had set up a spacious dining area with tables set out in orderly rows, all covered in clean Kraft paper for their guests, and with ample room between rows to accommodate the diner's movement through the room – back and forth to the chili pots.
Department members staged the annual event that has now become one of the community's big three social events of the season: the Golden Gala and the annual Chamber Banquet being the other two.
Of the 81 contributed crocks-full of homemade favorite recipes, 50 were red, 15 were green, and 16 were entered in the hot category.
Taking the crown as this year's top chili cook in Surface creek Valley is Susan Cox whose entries took two first place honors. The number-one green chili and the number-one hot chili both came from Susan's kitchen
The top red variety chile is a favorite recipe of Ellie Weatherly. And, a white bean chili donated by Lynette Calvert won the people's choice honors.
A group of a dozen judges had the tough task of deciding which of the many entries in each category was the best. Judges took their responsibility seriously and, with official scoring sheets in hand, sampled each one in the category they were assigned to. Then, after cleansing the palate with a sip of water and a bit of tortilla, they moved on to the next one.
It was a heartfelt outpouring that eclipsed last year's 77 contributions of crock pots and roasting pots full that were contributed for the event.
It took tables lining two full walls of the station to accommodate the 81 crocks- and roasters-full of chili that were set out for the department's guests that evening.
The volunteer fire department and the community are share a sense mutual admiration and respect like none other in the valley. The support for the firefighters shown by the community, and the appreciation to the community shown by the department volunteers is the real winning recipe.blog comments powered by Disqus