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Micanopy community gathers to celebrate 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off

Samuel Kollasch, the winner of the competition, stirs his chili before the event. (Jackson Colding/WUFT News)
Samuel Kollasch, the winner of the competition, stirs his chili before the event. (Jackson Colding/WUFT News)

Samuel Kollasch and Monica Santiago stirred their chili before Micanopy’s 3rd Annual Chili Cook-Off, hoping to win the competition for the second year in a row.

The pair repeated their win, and they were also happy to see people enjoy food at the event. Serving the community, not competition, emerged as a common theme among the competitors.

“It feels awesome. I’m really glad that people loved the chili.” Kollasch said. “It makes the effort and the time worthwhile while giving to a good cause.”

The proceeds from the event go to a non-profit called Florida Cares. It is a non-profit that supports prison reform. The cost to try the chili was $5.

Attendees and chefs alike said they chose to participate in the cook-off to feel more involved in the community. Meeting people who are also a part of the community served a greater purpose for competitor Kevin Putansu.

“I don’t see it as competing, I see it as community.” Putansu said. “The neighborhood comes out, and you get to meet the other folks who cook chili, so it’s not really about the competition.”

The thought of winning the competition was not the determining factor for Putansu to have an enjoyable day at the cook-off.

“Sharing a recipe, sharing the fellowship of an event, that is what makes it fun,” Putansu said.

Events like the chili cook-off bring people back to Micanopy even if they have moved out of the community. The chili cook-off gave Alachua County Commissioner Mary Alford a chance to come back to Micanopy to interact with the people who live in the community.

“I moved to Archer, so I don’t get a chance to see the folks of Micanopy as often, so I’m happy to see folks from Micanopy,” Alford said.

Meeting people and providing money toward a cause is something that competitor Trish Davies values when participating in the competition.

“It’s volunteering, it’s providing funds for non-profit and I get to meet new people every time I come out here,” Davies said.

Trish Davies stirs her chili before the event hoping to bond with the community. (Jackson Colding/WUFT News)
Trish Davies stirs her chili before the event hoping to bond with the community. (Jackson Colding/WUFT News)

Even though Davies did not think she was going to win the cook-off, she still enjoys interacting with the people and trying their chili.

“I never think I am going to win, but I always enjoy trying everybody else’s chili,” Davies said.

A community experience is also something competitor Brianna Lee valued while participating in the chili cook-off.

“It gives us an experience to bond and meet new people,” Lee said.

Even though Kollasch and Santiago won the competition last year, before he won this year, Kollasch still valued the togetherness of the Micanopy community that this event brings.

“Just getting to meet new people and get out on a nice Saturday,” Kollasch said on how he feels the event brings Micanopy together.

The chili cook-off also provided the ability for attendees to feel a sense of community. Robert Hilow, an attendee, took this as an opportunity to have that sense of community among his peers.

“Absolutely, everyone needs community, and this is a great way for everyone to get together and have a good time,” Hilow said.

Hilow hopes for more events like the chili cook-off to take place.

“I absolutely would hope that there are more events like this.” He said. “I mean, I could come to these daily.”

The organizer of the event, Shauna DuVall emphasized community involvement with the organizing of the chili cook-off.

“The cook-off brings the community together because there are not many events organized and run by local members of the community.” DuVall said. “The community gets to vote and be a part of the fun, everybody loves it.”

DuVall wanted the community to be involved in this event.

“This event really involves members of the town, they come together in different aspects,” she said.

The community impact of the event was not felt until DuVall considered not hosting the cook-off this year.

“I didn’t realize it had such an impact until I was on the fence about hosting it this year and had several people approach me asking about it,” she said.

Jackson is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing
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