Serving up chili and the community
By Robin Scott
As in 103 years past, the Dalhart Fire Department’s 104th Annual Chili Supper served up delicious hot chili, steaming hot stew and the highly anticipated mouthwatering cobblers. The gorgeous weather on Saturday served up the perfect backdrop for the event, and people came out in record numbers in celebration of the feeling that winter has passed.
This year’s 104th Annual Chili Supper was held on Saturday, March 6th at the Rita Blanca Coliseum. Dalhart Fire Chief Curtis Brown was on hand to greet guests as they arrived. He noted, “We have a great turnout this year and there is plenty of good food to eat.” The long-standing tradition of cooking for the community was a huge success.
Members of the Dalhart Volunteer Fire Department began preparing to feed 1,200 people on Friday night. The tradition before the tradition includes staying all night at the barn next to the coliseum to begin cooking in the huge caldrons. Volunteers stayed around the clock to ensure that everything tasted just right. At the end of the event, volunteers continue to work through the night to clean up. Scott “Tiny” Grey, one of Dalhart’s volunteer firefighters was on clean up duty. He stated, “These trash cans end up weighing about 75 pounds each.” He and several others were busily keeping up clearing tables so that the incoming crowd could enjoy their meal.
The annual chili supper is the only fundraiser for the department, according to Fire Chief Brown. The proceeds from the supper go toward the purchase of equipment for the department and for training for fire department members. Fire Chief Brown noted, “We enjoy being out here and cooking for everyone, and we are able to earn necessary funding in the process.”
The evening was made possible by not only the volunteer firefighters, but also their spouses who all work together to prepare, cook, serve, greet, and clean up for the hundreds of diners. The only difficult part of the evening was deciding between peach or cherry cobbler, or if the stomach had room for seconds. A newer tradition at the meal was cheese donated by Hilmar Cheese. The blocks of cheese were carefully sliced to add the perfect touch to the delicious meal. Volunteer firefighter Josie Lysford noted, “I served cheese both last year and this year. It’s great seeing everyone coming in to support us.”
On display at the supper was a special quilt made and donated by Terri Kemp and Cindy Andrews. This year’s quilt had a patriotic theme, and volunteers had no trouble selling raffle tickets. The quilt serves as a part of the fundraiser each year. Julie Oden was the happy winner of the quilt this year, and she promptly donated it back to the fire department, so that it may be used for more fundraising.
Overall, the evening was an enormous success. It gives community members an opportunity each year to support the fire department and enjoy a casual meal among friends and neighbors.