The Saturday before Mother’s Day, the safest place to be in Port Aransas was Roberts Point Park. It was the site of the 6th Annual Coastal Bend Law Enforcement Chili Cook-Off and there more peace officers per square foot than you’d be likely to see anywhere else that afternoon.
The chili cook-off is held by the Coastal Bend Peace Officers Association, the umbrella sponsor. The CBPOA organizes a monthly intelligence sharing among different federal, state and local agencies such as the Coast Guard, county sheriffs, Texas Rangers, city police departments and state Department of Public Safety. This year the cook-off was hosted by the Nueces County Precinct 4 Constable Bobby Sherwood along with Don Cook from the Corpus Christi Police Department. Proceeds benefit the CBPOA College Scholarship Fund, the CBPOA Officer Family Assistance Fund and Project Graduation.
Eighteen teams competed. This is not a “sanctioned” chili cook-off so there are few rules and it’s a little more informal. Five dollars got me a wristband and privileges to taste as much of the entries as I wanted from the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There was chili to please every taste, from the set-your-mouth-on-fire variety to the more subtle and even slightly sweet. I headed straight for the Customs and Border Patrol booth. That was my favorite last year and it was again this year. Apparently I’ve got the makings of a professional chili judge since the CPB earned second place from the judging officials. The Kleberg County Sheriff’s chili won first place. But the public got a voice in the judging too. People were invited to stuff the “tip” jar with bills to demonstrate their approval (and to make additional donations to the cause). The People’s Choice award went to DPS.
There were showmanship awards too. You see, it’s not enough just to provide great chili. You also have to have a shtick. The Corpus Christ Police Department’s “Aye Chihuahua” took first place for showmanship, but booths were decked out as tiki bars and tropical islands, as well.
The ever-popular beer booth was there to provide suds for washing down all this spicy stuff. This year there was also a “Lemunayde” stand and sno-cones to cool the fire. This was the first year that the chili cook-off has had vendors. Island Woman Boutique was one of those, and proprietor Carolyn Andrews said that business was good. She wondered why more local people don’t turn out for this and I’d have to wonder too. It was a beautiful day in the park, the chili was wonderful and it was for a good cause. This is the CBPOA’s only fundraiser. In five years, they have handed out $51,000 to officer- and military families in need.
And it’s not like sampling chili is the only entertainment offered. Lighter Ray, a duo from Corpus Christi was there to provide modern country music. A play area for children offered moon walking, rock climbing and slip-n-slide. The search-and-rescue demonstration got cut short by a call to attend to a real emergency. (Last year, the demonstration was so inspiring, I wanted to run right down and enlist.) A Coast Guard cutter was also on display. A live auction offered some great prizes, like round-trip Southwest Airlines plane tickets, a stay at Port Royal, a charter bay fishing trip, golf package, concert tickets and more.
All in all, Constable Sherwood reports, the turnout was good and $16,000 were raised.
For more information, contact Constable Bobby Sherwood at (361)-749-5241 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the CBPOA web site at www.coastalbendpeaceofficers.com. You can also find them on Facebook. Mark your calendar now for the 7th Annual Coastal Bend Law Enforcement Chili Cook-Off. It will be the Saturday before Mother’s Day – easy to remember! I’ll see you there.