Chefs’ hats off to everyone involved in the Chili Cook-off event on September 28! The event was a resounding success with over $10,500 raised for the Harvey County United Way Annual Campaign. This was a $1,000 increase over last year.

It’s nearly impossible to thank everyone who helped with the event, but worth a shot.

Organizers of the event, Prairie Harvest and Ameriprise Petitjean Whifield and Associates, meet for nine months prior to the event planning every detail. They donate staff time, pay for related expenses, ensuring dollars raised go to Harvey County United Way. Obviously this event would not exist without their tremendous support.

Sixth Street business owners agree to the street closure and tolerate inconvenience for their customers.

City of Newton employees arrange barricades, trash and recycle containers and clean-up after the event. Kaye Electric, Foley Rental and the Newton Chamber of Commerce facilitated electrical connections. Newton Recreation Commission loaned fencing.

Southwest Paper donated bowls. US Foods Service discounted ingredients.

Newton High School and Hutchinson Community College students volunteered thanks to Melinda Rangel, NHS, and Dawn Warrington, Harvey County Volunteers.

Greg Bergman and NHS Drumline provided a crowd-pleasing performance. Midian Shrine Hillbilly Band played classic country and old standards "by ear" ramped up the energy. And Circle 8 Square Dance Club kept the crowd moving.

Newton Kansan, Harvey County NOW and Harvey County Independent ran articles and promoted the event to readers. Alyssa Collier, Newton Convention and Tourism Bureau, extended the market reach through flyers at the State Fair. Allison Heather provided graphic designs.

Agency Judges: Joe Dickinson, Jim Daily, Sandra Fruit. Open Class Judges: Galen Anderson, Mel McAnulty and Jessie Kaye.

Agencies: Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA, Circles of Hope, Community Playschool, Newton Community Child Care & Infant/Toddler Program, HV DV/SA Task Force, HV RSVP, Health Ministries/HV Health Department/Prairie View, Heart to Heart, Mirror Inc, Newton Meals on Wheels, Newton and Hesston Area Senior Centers, Offender Victims Ministries, Salvation Army/Trinity Heights Respite Care, Sunshine Academy, United Cerebral Palsy.

Open Class: Crust & Crumb, First Baptist Church, Harvey County Sheriff/Suicide Prevention Task Force, League 42, Luigi’s, Newton City Commission, Newton Fire/EMS, Newton Kansan, Newton Police Department, Project Search.

Frequently, area businesses and board members sponsored these booths.

And last but not least, thanks to the estimated 1,000 people who attended, whether they like chili or not, bringing energy and a much-needed sense of community.

— Tina Payne, Harvey County United Way