REED CITY — Large samples of chili helped dozens of people warm up from Saturday's chill during the Crossroads Lions Club annual chili cookoff, which took place inside the Reed City Depot.

Seven local restaurants, including Seven Slot Grille, H&D Chuckwagon, Brothers Sports Bar and Grill, Pere Marquette Catering, Hawkins Bar, Mr. Pibs Restaurant and Eagle Village, competed using their best chili recipes. Chili characteristics ranged from sweet and savory to spicy, with red and white chili base varieties. Toppings, beverages and corn bread were available, and for dessert, baked items could be purchased at a low cost.

Attendees Pat and Mike Cady and Ron Schalow attended the event to support the Lions Club and have a good meal.

"We've been to the Big Rapids cookoff, so we came here for the different vendors," Mike said.

The trio tasted all they could and were stumped about which participant produced what type of chili, but had a few standout favorites. They all enjoyed sampling and the opportunity for fellowship with others who walked through the depot doors.

With a donation of $5 or used eyeglasses, attendees tasted samples of each without knowing which restaurant provided which type, then placed money in a jar next to the chili they liked best. The jar with the most money was proclaimed the winner. This year, Eagle Village received bragging rights.

The event also featured a raffle drawing for cash prizes. Winners included Bambi Olson, who won $500, Tracee Thering, who won $250, and Ron Babb, who won $100.

Lions Club President Dan Lee said the group collected about $2,000 and 40 pairs of used eyeglasses from the event. He was thankful for the businesses who wanted to participate and bring in delicious chili for everyone to try.

"We had a pretty good variety of chili this year," he said. "The one with the ghost pepper was the talk of the event."

Lee is hopeful for next year, wanting to see it expand in attendance and participants.

"We had a really good turnout for our second year, and the bake sale was more successful than last year," he said. "Next year, we'd like to get more restaurants involved and would like to expand our area of contestants outside of Osceola County."