Exchange Club event expected to draw thousands
By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - While for many in Florida, summer means beaches and barbecues, here in St. Lucie County, it means it's time for chili.
The annual Fort Pierce Exchange Club Chili Cookoff, now in its 30th year, will be held July 14 at the Havert Fenn Center in Fort Pierce. This year more than 30 teams will vie for the title of best chili. There is a different theme every year, and this year's theme is "Greatest Moments in Sports."
"Last year, between 12,000 and 15,000 people came to the cookoff," said Chris Dzadovsky, media liason and stage director for the event. "More than $36,000 was raised."
All the money raised goes toward the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County to fund local youth programs. Since the beginning of the fundraiser, more than $2 million has been raised for the club.
"We're grateful to the partnering again this year with the Fort Pierce Exchange Club," said Jennifer Jock, marketing and special events coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County.
"The funds will go to help the 5,000 youth we touch in St. Lucie County every year."
Before the cookoff begins, a competition of an entirely different kind will take place at the St. Lucie County skatepark next to the Fenn Center, where Undercover Skate Shop in Fort Pierce holds a skateboarding competition from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The doors for the chili cookoff open at 10 a.m. and will run to 7 p.m. There is no charge for admission or parking, and there will be five tastings offered for $5, giving everyone the ability to taste chili from a number of different booths. The public will also be able to cast their vote for a people's choice award.
The teams will start cooking their chili for the judges at 11 a.m. and judging begins at 4 p.m.
The event will also include music by Humdingers and line dancing and lessons by the Wild Roses Dance Team.
A speed-eating chili contest will take place at 2 p.m., and the pageants Little Miss Chili Pepper and Mr. Pee Wee Pepper will take place at 4 p.m.
At 7 p.m. the teams will find out who wins the coveted best chili award, along with several others.
The skateboarding competition by Undercover Skate Shop will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the St. Lucie County skatepark next to the Fenn Center. For more information, call (772) 489-6558.
The chili cookoff will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 14 at the Havert Fenn Center.
For more information about the chili cookoff or the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County, contact Jennifer Jock at (772) 460-9918 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.