Mary Blount Elementary School was the scene of fierce competition recently but it had nothing to do with athletics.
The school’s annual chili competition and fundraiser had parents and teachers competing for the best chili and chowing down on offerings from area restaurants for supper. Parents, students, teachers and the community turned out for the tasty event.
This is the seventh year the chili cookoff has taken place, the fifth year at the current school building. PTO president Maryann Bock said this year’s event was different from previous ones. In the past, teachers competing in the chili cook-off had to make enough chili to feed the guests. This year area restaurants provided food for the crowds, freeing the teachers to focus on making chili for the cookoff.
Bock said other aspects were added to the event that have stirred interest among students and parents. Different businesses donated baskets of merchandise or gift cards that PTO volunteers then raffled off.
Lisa Heaton, Mary Blount Elementary School PTO treasurer, said this is the first year the new PTO officers participated in the event. Heaton praised PTO president Maryann Bock for her commitment to the organization and the event. “We all have to do our part but she’s done so much by meeting businesses and getting them in here,” Heaton said.
Bock said the event turned out great this year. “I’m just really, really excited. We have so many different businesses coming in, and the teachers can relax and put everything into their chili and have fun,” she said.
Bock said the event is focused on the students. “We wanted to create a fun atmosphere. This school is about them and their families,” she said.
Beth Petria, PTO secretary, said changing the event has worked. “We ramped it up a million-fold. Last year we had 60 attendees, and this year we have reservations for 135 and that doesn’t include walk-ins,” she said.
Petria said businesses such as Uno’s Chicago Pizza and Grill, Ruby Tuesday, Texas Roadhouse, Look Rock Bakery and Pizzeria, Jump Zone, the Rush, McAllisters, Wal-Mart, Brown’s Business, Angel Nails, Smart Style and Coffee Zone all helped to make it a success with their participation.
Celebrity judges were Sgt. Jason Barham and FTO Brett Hall of the Maryville Police Department, Mary Jekels, and Russell Bivens and Beth Haynes of WBIR-TV, Channel 10.