In Photos: Chili Cook-Off And Springs Celebration Bring Visitors To State Park


With a donation of canned food, visitors could enter O’Leno State Park for the 10th annual O’Leno Ole’ Chili Cook-Off and Springs Celebration on Saturday. The two events supported each other, bringing in people who love chili and Florida’s water.

“It’s a great way to get people to a beautiful park,” said Stacie Greco of the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, “They get to learn about some of our water issues and some of the solutions in a real celebratory atmosphere.”

The chili cook-off had two categories – Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) Category and Open Category – as well as a showmanship award and a people’s choice award.

Amy Harder won the CASI Category and Bert Dunn won the Open Category. Jane Calano won the showmanship award for her Irish-themed tent and Bret Harder won people’s choice.

In addition to taste tests, attendees had a chance to view different exhibits that showcased Floridian wildlife and local water issues. There were tables and kids games that explained some of the harm done to the springs and the Floridan aquifer.

“I’m hoping that people learn where our water comes from,” Greco said, “and that people are learning that by conserving water and by reducing pollution from things like fertilizers, they can be part of the solution.”

Amanda Knox from Bell, Florida pours a cup of her meat-based chili. She also provided a vegetarian option. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Stuart Frye from Pensacola adds ingredients to his chili for the CASI category. Because the judges will only get one to two bites, Frye focuses on creating the best flavor. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Jane Calano serves some of her Irish chili, which includes Guinness and cinnamon. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Tammy Canty’s son points to an eastern diamondback rattlesnake while explaining some of the snake facts he knows. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Rosalee Fourakre shows a 19th century corn grinder to Tom and Carol Lee Iverson from Wisconsin. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Nan Soistman introduces Ruby the eastern screech owl to a crowd at the event. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Asia Sutton fishes for litter in the River Trash game. This game highlighted the litter problem impacting Florida’s water. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Stacie Greco from the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department points to some of the exhibitors and kid’s activities at the Springs Celebration. This is the seventh year that the Chili Cook-Off and the Spring Celebration have been together. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


Rocky Draud, bassist for Weeds of Eden, plays Folsom Prison Blues for the people waiting for chili in the Pavilion of O’Leno State Park. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)


The prizewinners for all categories line up for a group photo. (Aaron Zeiler/WUFT News)

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