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.