Fire station chili chefs compete in Greenwood Kiwanis cook-off

Proceeds from the event earmarked for the Riley Hospital for Children

From left, Bargersville firefighter Joe Kipfer his stepson, Colin Norris, and EMT Toni Wampler accept the First Place trophy from Greenwood Kiwanis President Mary Kay Anthony. *Submitted photos

Friday’s 8th Annual Greenwood Kiwanis Chili Cook-off provided the perfect recipe for helping children. The event, which this year featured the concoctions of chili chefs from several local fire stations, raised almost $1,900 for the Riley Hospital for Children and other child-related programs the club supports.

In all, more than 1,100 cups of the soups were served to some 160 chili connoiseurs gathered in the Greenwood United Methodist Church. After the smoke had cleared and the votes were tabulated, Toni Wampler and Joe Kipfer, representing the Bargersville Fire Department, emerged victorious. Other competitors included Dale Saucier of the New Whiteland Fire Department (second place), Matthew Oakley of the Whiteland Fire Department (third place), Logan Chaszar and Daniel Wingham of the Greenwood Fire Department, and Erik Toler of the Whiteland Fire Department.

Kipfer, a firefighter, and Wampler, an emergency medical technician who is known around the department as a “culinary genius,” created a black bean and sausage chili with a secret “fire in the hole” sauce.

Competitors in the 8th Annual Greenwood Chili Cook-off included, from left, Toni Wampler, Joe Kipfer and his stepson, Colin Norris, representing the Bargersville Fire Department; Erik Toller and Matthew Oakler, Whiteland Fire Department; Daniel Wingham and Logan Chaszar of the Greenwood Fire Department; and Dale Saucier, New Whiteland Fire Department.

“Firefighters love food and, of course, we’re all competitive in nature,” Wampler says. “The chili cook-off was a fun challenge but, more importantly, we were honored to be a part of a fundraiser to benefit kids.”

Kipfer agrees. “We always like to support anything that helps children,” he notes, “and to compete with fellow departments in good spirit is always a joy.”

“The Greenwood Kiwanis club shares our department’s focus on helping children and making their lives safer and healthier,” adds Greenwood Fire Chief Darin Hoggatt. “We’ve taken part in projects with them in the past, and this event will be another great way for us to sharpen our focus on children and have a great time doing it.”

Complementing the chili cook-off was a silent auction which raised more than $1,600 for  the club’s Bill and Sharlene Mellencamp Scholarship Fund. Each year, the club awards scholarships to students at Center Grove, Franklin Central and Greenwood high schools, where it sponsors Key Clubs. Key Clubbers from Franklin Central and Greenwood high schools served food, bused tables and performed other volunteer duties at the chili supper. 

Among the chili connoisseurs was Penny Laug, three-year-old daughter of Jeff and Lisa Laug. Lisa is the advisor of the Key Club at Greenwood High School.