Trying a tasty fundraiser this year, the Fitch band's Chili Cook-off for Veterans Day brought 22 entries and a panel of five veteran judges representing each branch of the military.
The event raised $1,000 for the VA Food Pantry which was presented to Robert Brienik, volunteer liaison at the VA Clinic in Youngstown. That amount was collected from the ticket sales for the event. The band also had a table set up for collections to the Wounded Warrior Project, which brought in $100.
"Part of the dinner sales went to the VA food pantry," said Julie Nochta, AF Band Parents financial vice president and event coordinator. "The remaining proceeds will be used to cover costs for the dinner, then will go into a general fund for the band which will help cover costs such as uniforms, instruments, and equipment."
Nochta said she was pleased with the outcome of the first cook-off, which could become an annual Veterans Day event for the Fitch band. Those attending the event not only had a great chili dinner, but also enjoyed a musical program put on by the band. The concert opened with Marine Detachment 494 posting the colors. The evening ended with a salute to each branch of the service with an Armed Forces Medley arranged by Wes O'Conner and "Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Phillip Sousa.
As for the chili contest, judges were selected to represent each of the five military branches. The veterans got to taste each entry, then had the difficult choice of selecting the three best. The final vote put Doreen Connelly's turkey chili in first place, followed by second place Junette Danko and her taco chili, and third place winner Lisa Scannell with her salsa chili.
The Peoples Choice award went to Marianne Yeager, who made chili on behalf of the Austintown Fitch band's flute section. The Austintown Fitch Clay Club commissioned a red, white and blue themed chili pot to serve as the People's Choice trophy.