Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Some like it hot and some like it sweet, but one thing is certain, Northlanders know how to make a mean chili.
Thousands filled the DECC Thursday to get a taste, vote for the best, and help those in need.
It’s all a part of the 22nd annual United Way of Greater Duluth, Chili Cook-Off.
Upwards of 1,500 people and nearly 500 gallons of Chili brought out the best.
"It's Chili to Die For,” Barb Tanksi of Bell Brother’s Funeral Home said. “It's the best Chicken Chili you’re ever going to have."
Whether it was a secret family recipe or it was thrown together last minute, 39 groups both amateur and professional brought their A-game.
“I didn't really have a recipe, I started at 8 o’clock this morning and just kind of made it," Dylan Westerlund of Fitger’s Brewhouse said.
"We've actually gone around and sampled some other chili and there's definitely some competition out there," Brian Black of the Duluth Professional Fire Fighters said.
It's a competition for bragging rights.
From Vegetarian to Hottest-Yet-Edible and People's Choice, 11 awards were on the table.
And it's all for a good cause. The Chili Cook-Off kicks off a 90-day campaign to raise money to support more than 50 health and human service programs in the region.
"It's Lutheran Social Service, Chum, Salvation Army, Save Haven, Damiano Center, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, and Valley Youth Center,” Paula Reed, President of the United Way of Greater Duluth said. “There are so many that are doing wonderful work in our community.”
With bellies full, chili enthusiasts said they are happy to do their part.
"I did not expect to get full and I sure did,” Jim Sandstrom, a chili enthusiast said. “It was delicious, it goes to a good cause, and I love chili.”
Awards of the 22nd Annual United Way Chili Cook-Off:
1st Place: Essentia Health-Lake Winds Cafe
2nd Place: Essentia Health-Northern Lites Cafe
3rd Place: Tie: Green Mill and Zeitgeist Arts Cafe
1st Place: Duluth Fire Department
2nd Place Minnesota Power
3rd Place: Courage Kenny Northland
Vegetarian: Girl Scouts
Most Unique: Essentia Lake Winds Cafe
Spicy Spirit: Whole Foods Co-op