North Port team wins competition that attracted hundreds to the 21st annual competition on Oct. 17.
The annual Morton's Firehouse Chili Cook-Off is considered one of the highlights of the year for local firefighters, returning to its Osprey Avenue home on Oct. 17 after a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, held outside Morton's Marketplace and benefitting the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund, featured 13 teams from across Sarasota County showing off their chili creations to win the much-desired title of Best Chili.
Sarasota County Fire Department Assistant Chief of Operations Michael Hartley welcomed the crowd to the festivities before introducing the panel of judges.
Celebrity guests this year included Sarasota interim Chief of Police Rex Troche, morning show hosts Maverick and Lulu and Adyn Pickett who has been battling leukemia. Pickett was introduced on stage with his sister Abby, who donated her bone marrow to her brother, while their mother Erica watched and fought back tears. The crowd went on to cheer Adyn's name.
"We're going to enjoy today and may the best chili win," Hartley said.
Teams had their own names and themes that included icy igloos with penguin costumes, beachy Baywatch aesthetics and Hawaiian vacations. Festivalgoers tried out different chili samples at each tent before casting their votes for the winner.
There could only be one winner, though, and the North Port fire team walked off with the first place prize as well as the people's choice award.
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