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TALKING TROUT: Cool weather is coming followed by hot chili

October 11, 2018

I just checked the weather and, although a hurricane is coming this week, the extended forecast is for more normal weather the week of the 23rd annual Trout Unlimited Chili Cook Off at Ridge Ferry Park.

We all know that weather prognosticators are not always accurate 10 or 12 days out, but I feel certain the days of high 80s and 90s will be gone, replaced with high temperatures in the 70s, which should make the cooks happy that they will not be sweating as they prepare their hopefully-winning chili.

Many of the cook teams seem to have forgotten why they are cooking and why they have the opportunity to compete. Those few teams seem to have only trophies and dollars as their goal and have forgotten that the reason for the event is to raise funds for the local TU chapter.

Trout Unlimited members spend many hours working without pay or compensation getting logs into position in streams and rolling boulders to improve fish habitat. That could not happen if we did not have money to buy supplies and materials needed to make these stream structures. Our members have been meeting weekly, making plans for the cook off and trying our best to make sure that the chili teams will be happy and not bend rules just to get a trophy.

There are a lot of teams that no longer compete because they feel that the same teams seem to win year after year. We have had quite a few teams that make delicious chili. The judges have absolutely no idea who makes the chili because the judging is double blind. The recipes that they deem best advance from the preliminary judging to the final round in which every judge tastes and scores the chili on several different parameters. There is no way to bribe or rig the judging.

In peoples choice we have tried to make the public balloting as fair as humanly possible. The ballot containers are sealed and tamper-proof. If a team is preparing more than one recipe each recipe is supposed to have its own ballot container directly in front of that chili. If the taster likes a particular chili he or she places their ballot in the container for that chili. As long as teams comply with the rules the peoples choice voting is fair.

We have an announcement that will affect the chili tasters that desire a beer with their chili. We are trying to make our event as family friendly as possible, so there will not be a beer vendor at the cook off this year. Alcoholic beverages are permitted at Ridge Ferry Park.

I also have a reminder for teams that will be camping at the park. Camping is permitted on Friday night but all campers, whether in a tent, a motor home or a pull behind camper, cannot camp on Saturday night or leave their camper, tent etc., at the park overnight. There will be no exceptions, so make sure that you have someone who will be responsible for getting the motor home or trailer out of the park safely before 8 p.m. Trout Unlimited does not have the park rented on Sunday as the cost is just too steep to accommodate the few folks who desire to spend the night in the park on Saturday.

There is still plenty of time to enter a team and we can always accommodate more. It is very easy to pick a cook site and register online. Go to the Coosa Valley TU website to register. The web address is http://coosavalley.tu.org. The cook off is Oct. 20. Gates open to the public at 10:30 a.m.

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