Eight local restaurants compete in fundraiser

REED CITY — While the cold weather still lingers in Osceola County, individuals can warm up while helping the Crossroads Lions Club raise money to benefit those less fortunate.

The organization is hosting its annual chili cookoff event, slated to take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, at the Reed City Depot. Eight local restaurants, including Seven Slot Grille, H&D Chuckwagon, Brothers Sports Bar and Grill, Pere Marquette Catering, Hawkins Bar, Mr. Pibs Restaurant, Eagle Village and the Rose Golf Course will compete using their best chili recipes.

"We are very pleased with the number of contestants," said Crossroads Lions Club President Dan Lee. "They are providing the chili and time out of their day to help us with this event. We really appreciate the restaurants for their participation in helping us raise money for our community service projects."

For a $5 admission fee or a donation of used prescription eyeglasses, individuals can try samples of each type of chili without knowing which restaurant each sample is from. Once a favorite is decided, individuals will place an amount of money they choose into the tip jar of their selected winner. The restaurant with the most money in its tip jar will be declared the winner at the end of the cookoff.

"We're hoping for a large turnout," Lee said. "I'm excited to see what the restaurants will bring to their chili. Last year, one of them snuck in a ghost pepper."

The winner of the cookoff will receive bragging rights. The team from H&D Chuckwagon will be defending its title from last year's win.

To satisfy the sweet tooth, baked goods also will be sold at the event, and a $10-per-ticket raffle drawing will announce lucky individuals who will receive $500, $250 or $100 prizes.

Monetary proceeds from the cookoff will stay in the local community to help those in need receive eye exams or glasses. It also will help fund free eye screenings for children hosted by the Lions Club throughout the year. Donated glasses will be given to local optometrists who will distribute them overseas to people in need.

"We'd like a large turnout this year," Lee added. "We're hoping maybe with the cold weather we'll get some of the snowmobilers on the trail or others interested in coming in to participate."

For restaurant owners desiring to participate, last minute entries will be accepted. For more information, call Dan Lee at (231) 832-3283.