Chili cook-off winner: Kathy McCollum

Mat-Su School Board Member Kathy McCollum is crowned the winner of the chili cook-off at the Palmer Train Depot, where Valley Republican Women held their annual competition and "fun-raiser."

Wall of guns. Split the pot. Live country music. Silent and outcry auction. And about 15 varieties of homemade chili for the tastebuds and the judging of the 150 people attending the Valley Republican Women’s annual Chili Cook-off.

This year’s winner was Mat-Su School Board member Kathy McCollum, who is also hoping to win another term on the school board of the second-largest and fastest-growing school district in the state. Mat-Su Borough elections are held in November, with early voting starting Oct. 23 and all voting ending Nov. 7.

Other political figures who entered their pots of chili in the contest included last year’s winner, Sen. Mike Shower of Wasilla, Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford, Palmer City Councilman Richard Best, and Mat-Su School Board member Ole Larson. More than one of the entries had generous portions of moose meat in them.

Congressional candidate Nick Begich served as emcee of the annual event, assisted by Palmer Deputy Mayor Pam Melin and Region 2 Republican Party officer Ron Johnson, who served as auctioneer.

Also attending Saturday’s conservative gathering at the Palmer Train Depot were Alaska House Speaker Cathy Tilton, Rep. DeLena Johnson, Rep. Kevin McCabe, Sen. Mike Shower, Sen. Shelley Hughes, Mat-Su Mayor Edna DeVries, Assemblyman Dimitri Fonov, Assemblywoman Dee McKee, Alaska Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Brown, GOP Vice Chairman Mike Robbins, and Finance Chairman Jason Warfield.

In a room filled with activists and families, Nick Begich repeated a refrain coined by Mayor Glenda Ledford, “Every time the Anchorage Assembly meets, another business moves to the Valley,” which drew laughter and applause.


  1. Hopefully, none of the judges of the chili cook-off were those nuts (mostly from Texas or New Mexico) who seem to believe that REAL chili does not and cannot contain beans — or tomato in any form, or onions, or garlic.

  2. When are you going to do a story about this: ‘Sound of Freedom’ Funder Fabian Marta Arrested For Child Kidnapping

    Within every accusation is a confession! This adds credence to the old axiom “When you point the finger three more are pointing back at you.”

  3. Maybe Matsu Republicans Women Chili cook-off ought to start getting GenZ learning to make the best Chili too. Something they can do that pulls them together and get them more engaged in the political circle. A comfortable group is not usually a group that is growing. Right now Anchorage established churches are struggling to grow its memberships. I see it as not enough engagement sharing the Gospel and they too groupie. It’s nice this groupie is all nice with one another, but who is absent is GenZ. And I think they should be making chili too. Or the Emcees be a collection of GenZ’s.

  4. There were several young Republicans there who are candidates: Ian Crafton (who did make chili!) and Dmitri Fonov, a candidate for MSB assembly who has the most enthusiastic “campaign manager”…his cute little daughter. There were a bunch of “future Republicans” ranging from babes in arms to teens helping with drawing winning tickets and cleanup. It was an all-ages event.

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