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Celeste Cermak, left, hands out "Arnold's Bacon Cheese Burger Chili' to Chris and Bill Baumgartner Wednesday afternoon at the 18th annual United Way Chili Cook Off at the Paul Bunyan Mall. Cermak, was part of the 1st Reality GMAC team, there were 34 groups serving chili. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper
Celeste Cermak, left, hands out "Arnold's Bacon Cheese Burger Chili' to Chris and Bill Baumgartner Wednesday afternoon at the 18th annual United Way Chili Cook Off at the Paul Bunyan Mall. Cermak, was part of the 1st Reality GMAC team, there were 34 groups serving chili. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper
United Way Chili Cook-off raises $2,631
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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The United Way's "Sizzlin' '70s Sitcoms" Chili Cook-off held Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Paul Bunyan Mall, kicked off the United Way's 23rd annual campaign for the community.

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Thirty-three cooks lined the halls of the mall preparing chili to appeal to just about any taste, from mild to spicy. More than 400 people attended the event, which raised $2,631 for this year's campaign.

Awards to chili cooks were given in the following categories:

- First place, Celebrity Division Chili: Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

- First place, Business Division Chili: First City Dance Studio.

- First place, Restaurant Division Chili: Cabin Coffeehouse.

- First place, Corporate Division Chili: Beltrami Electric.

- First place, Non-Profit Division Chili: The Salvation Army.

- Most Creative Chili Cook Award: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

- Best Presentation Award: Minnesota Nice Café.

- Best Name Award: MeritCare "Groovy Evil-Tiki Hawaiian Chili."

- Taster's Choice: Minnesota Nice Cafe had $50.39 worth of votes. The total amount collected in all the Taster's Choice jars was more than $440.

- Best Overall Chili Award: Havenwood Care Center.

Chris and Melissa Vacek, United Way Campaign vice-chairs, announced during the program that the 10 Pacesetter businesses that completed their internal campaigns early for the United Way, through employee giving and internal fundraisers, raised a total of $127,215.92. The total is 31 percent of the United Way's overall campaign goal of $417,000.

The Pacesetter businesses are Beltrami Electric Cooperative, First National Bank Bemidji, JCPenney, RiverWood Bank, North Country Business Products, North Country Health Services, Potlatch, Target, United Parcel Service and Wells Fargo Bank.

The United Way campaign for the community will run through Oct. 31.

Funds raised support 34 local nonprofit agencies and programs in the Bemidji area that provide a variety of services and initiatives to address the root causes of the most serious human needs in the community and create real, lasting change in people's lives in the areas of: education, helping children, youth and adults achieve their full potential; income, promoting financial stability, increasing self-sufficiency and independence; and health, improving people's health and social well-being and providing emergency services.

For details on the United Way or the campaign, or to make a donation, call 444-8929 or visit liveunitedbemidji.org.

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