Phoenix’s St. Stephen’s and Fulton’s Holy Trinity churches annual chili cook-off set for March 15

Team Awesomeness Youth Group preparing for St. Stephen’s and Holy Trinity churches March 15 chili cook-off. Photo provided.

PHOENIX – St. Stephen’s Catholic Church may have the best chili cook-off slogan of all time.

“We’re not here to judge you, just your chili.”

You can enter yours for $10, which will support the Team Awesomeness Youth Group of seventh- to 10th-graders at St. Stephen’s and Fulton’s Holy Trinity churches. Or, if your idea of Judgment Day doesn’t include cooking, for $5 (adults) or $2 (children 12 and under), you can taste every one of the, on average 16 to 18 different chilis, according to Team Awesomeness Youth Group co-leader Jody Frawley.

“This particular event, the chili cook-off, is a great way to bring the whole community together to have people enter their chilis to see if they can win ‘Best-overall,’ ‘Hottest,’ or our ‘Little Lambs Choice,’ which is the kids’ choice (voted on by kids 12-years-old and younger),” she said.

The top prize in each category is $50. Second and third-place prizes in the ‘Best-overall’ and ‘Hottest’ categories are $25 and $10. The ‘Little Lambs Choice’ only awards the first-place $50 prize.

It’s just a wild guess, but winning the trifecta here of chilis, taking top honors in all three categories with an extremely spicy but absolutely delicious chili that kids can’t get enough of, for a total prize of $150, will never be achieved. Last year’s ‘Little Lamb Choice’ went to a white bean chicken chili.

One note for entrants: your chili must be in a slow cooker so that it can be kept warm.

Frawley said some of the chilis “have been really, really hot.” But, not to worry. “We do provide milk and oyster crackers” to put out the fire.

But there’s more to this cook-off than just chili. Vendors also set up in the church hall to sell their various wares. A vendor’s table costs $10 and the vendor keeps all the money taken in from sales. A partial list of vendors this year includes those selling rosaries, jewelry, Lilla Rose products (barrettes, bobby pins, headbands), and “Erin’s Angels” water. Raffle Baskets and 50/50 tickets will also be available; two tickets for $1, 12 tickets for $5 and 25 tickets for $10.

According to Frawley, this fundraiser usually takes in between $600 and $700 that helps fund three youth group trips and sometimes even goes toward the weekly lunch served at the group’s Sunday afternoon meetings.

Every summer a three-day retreat in Steubenville, Ohio at Steubenville College is available to the group’s teens.

A trip to Niagara Falls is available for the seventh- and eighth-graders.

And the opportunity to go along with the adults on the ‘March for Life’ in Washington, D.C. comes up each January. While there, from Thursday through Saturday, the youth group visits national museums and memorials.

The Team Awesomeness Youth Group, founded by Howie and Diana King of Phoenix, has been in existence for eight years.

“The purpose of the youth group,” said Frawley, “is to bring them closer to God in their relationship, teach them about their faith and how to deal with life by turning to God.”

They may very well be turning to God after some extremely spicy chili served at St. Stephen’s Church Hall, 469 Main St., Phoenix from noon-3 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. After all, that’s why, as was written long ago in a long-lost bible, on the eighth day, God made milk and oyster crackers. Just further proof that God really did think of everything.

To enter your chili or to sample every chili in this year’s chili cook-off, or to set up as a vendor, contact Jody Frawley by March 8 at 315-251-1819 or at

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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