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Chili Cook-off kicks off United Way campaign

The team from Security State Bank USA — Jordan Anderson, Susan Schuh and Chelsea Gray — serve a bowl of “World Class Piggy” chili to Anna Atkinson during the 22nd annual United Way Chili Cook-off on Wednesday at the Sanford Center. A total of 31 teams served up tasty chili with the international theme of “Making a World of Difference.” MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

BEMIDJI — The United Way of Bemidji Area’s kicked off is 27th annual campaign for the community Wednesday with the Chili Cook-Off at the Sanford Center.

Thirty-one cooks lined the parameter of the Sanford Center’s ballroom, serving chili to the nearly 400 people who attend. The event raised $3,012.84 toward year’s campaign.

Also Wednesday, Sue Kringen, United Way campaign vice-chair, announced the total raised to-date by United Way’s nine pacesetter businesses. Pacesetter businesses set the pace for the annual campaign by conducting workplace fundraising early. Pacesetter businesses have raised $151,912.30 so far; 37 percent of the United Way’s overall campaign goal of $410,000.

The 2013 Pacesetter businesses are AmeriPride Services, Beltrami Electric Cooperative, First National Bank Bemidji, North Country Business Products, Potlatch Lumber Mill, Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, RiverWood Bank, Target and United Parcel Service.

This year’s five celebrity Chili Cook-Off judges were Mark Ricci, RP Broadcasting; Chuck Hildebrandt, Paul Bunyan Communications; Cyrus Pansch, Sanford Center and Brent Sicard, Lueken’s Village Foods and Denise Anderson, Bemidji Chamber of Commerce. They judged the thirty-one chili recipes based on the aroma, taste, texture, appearance and creativity.

Awards were given in various categories:

First Place Celebrity Division:  Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

First Place Business Division: Grimes Realty.

First Place Restaurant Division: Brigid’s Pub.

First Place Corporate Division: Eldercare.

First Place Non-Profit Division: Churches United.

Most Creative Chili Cook Award: Oak Hills Christian College.

Best Presentation Award: Kraus Anderson Construction Co.

Best Name Award: Real Living.

Taster’s Choice: Karvakko Engineering.

Best Overall Chili Award: The Sanford Center.

 The United Way campaign for the community will run through Oct. 31. Funds raised are invested in Bemidji area non-profit agencies and programs that address the root-causes of the most serious human needs in the community.

For more information about the United Way, the campaign or to make a donation, call (218) 444-8929 or visit the United Way’s website at