The first ever Chili Throwdown was held on Saturday evening, in the new, country-themed bar, Country Fried Duck.
Kim Grooms, the branch executive director of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA, said the YMCA Annual Campaign has a fundraising goal of $350,000 this year. All of the profits raised by the Chili Throwdown went directly to the YMCA.
“For me, it’s important that our community knows that we give back,” Grooms said. “It’s important that the Y is a community organization, and we make sure to take care of our kids and family.”
The money funds YMCA programs for minority and low-income youth.
These programs include Swim for Life, which teaches children who are at high risk for drowning to swim, and Y learning, which gives students who are performing below grade level the opportunity to catch up.
Chris Blue, Chapel Hill police chief, along with Al’s Burger Shack owner Al Bowers and UNC alumna Marla Benton, had the idea for the event. Blue and Bowers serve on the board of advisers of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
“We were thinking about some kind of food-themed event that we could do,” Blue said. “We thought it might be fun to have some kind of chili cook-off and get some interesting community members to participate. It’s a good time of the year for some chili.”
Local business owners Sally Mack and Sammy Martin and Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood were asked to judge the event.