WASHINGTON CITY — No spurs were spinning and no pacing of steps took place for the showdown.

Hundreds of attendees had their taste buds satisfied at the 2nd Annual Battle of the Badges Chili Cook-Off in Veteran’s Park, Washington, Utah, Nov. 4, 2023 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

There were plenty of flashing red and blue lights, polishing of badges, heated discussions and brandishing kitchen utensils to showcase spicy, sweet or even smoky versions of the Western favorite food — chili.

The 2nd Annual Battle of the Badges Chili Cook-off did not disappoint as the heated competition and boasting spread between first responders from various Washington County departments on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a lot of fun,” Washington City Public Affairs Officer and Chili Cook-off Judge Jordan Hess said. “There were great chilis. Very diverse tastes actually. You think most chili would all taste the same but all eleven had very distinct tastes.”

The event took place at Washington City’s Veteran’s Park with 11 emergency response departments registered to compete. Each department prepared its own version of chili for the chance to be named champion.

The judges included Hess, Washington City Councilman Kurt Ivie, Hurricane Mayor Nanette Billings, St. George City Councilwoman Natalie Larsen, Youth Futures Utah Co-founder Scott Catuccio and 102.3 The Coyote’s “Brother Dale” Desmond.

The competing cooks came from Washington City Police, Washington City Fire and Rescue, St. George Police, St. George Fire Department, Hurricane City Police, Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue, Apple Valley Fire Department, Dammeron Valley Fire and Rescue, Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue, Lifeflight and Washington County 911 Dispatchers.

When all was said and done, three winners got the better draw and bragging rights. The Hurricane City Police Department won the Judge’s Choice, the St. George Police Department won the People’s Choice and the Hurricane Valley Fire and Rescue won Best Booth.

Last year’s winners were the Washington City Fire and Rescue for Judge’s Choice, Utah Tech Police Department for People’s Choice and St. George Police Department for Best Booth.

Yet the real winner was the charitable organization that was chosen as the focus of this year’s event.

Washington City Police extended out invites to try their chili at the 2nd Annual Battle of the Badges Chili Cook-Off in Veteran’s Park, Washington, Utah, Nov. 4, 2023 | Photo by Nick Yamashita, St. George News

“The beneficiaries are going to be Youth Futures and there are a lot of youth in our own community who really need help right now,” Hess said.

All proceeds raised by the event benefit Youth Futures Utah, a nonprofit that works as an advocate for youth living in hard situations, including homelessness.

Co-founders Catuccio and Kristen Mitchell were both present to help support the event and push for their charitable cause.

“There is a need everywhere,” Mitchell said regarding situations of youth homelessness or abuse.

Mitchell noted that they have youth homes in St. George, Cedar City and Ogden where the organization was founded. As double residents of Southern and Northern Utah, they know from personal experience how much Utah youth need help and resources.

Last year’s inaugural event raised over $3,800 for Switchpoint Community Resource Center. This year’s raised an estimated over $3,000. The Utah Disaster Kleenup offset all the costs of the event. Gratitude was extended to all sponsors, supporters and volunteers who helped make the event a success.

Ivie said besides the charitable cause, it was a great opportunity to celebrate our first responders and a great way for the public to meet them.

“This event today is great,” Ivie said. “We like to give back to our first responders. We appreciate them. The sacrifice they make for our community and keeping us safe and informed. Not only that but we recognize their families, their spouses.”

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