Students add extra spice to Chili Cook Off

The crowed at the 2015 State Bank Financial Chili Cook Off was treated to a rousing 30-minute riverside performance by a band of students from Longfellow Middle School and Central High School, under the direction of Stephanie Maletz and Bix Swerman.

Students from several La Crosse schools performed music and produced special chili recipes, adding extra spice and fun to the 24th annual State Bank Financial Chili Cook Off held Oct. 10 at Riverside Park.

In all, 23 teams competed to try to satisfy the hungry crowd paying a $7 admission fee for all the chili they could eat. The event is a fundraiser sponsored by State Bank Financial, with all proceeds going to local DARE and GREAT programs, as well as to the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Tim Kotnour, new president and CEO of State Bank Financial, announces his president’s choice award winner at the Chili Cook Off.

One highlight of this year’s event came at the start. A band consisting of Longfellow Middle School and Central High School students performed for 30 minutes with the Mississippi River and a canvas of fall leaves serving as a backdrop. The band was under the direction of Stephanie Maletz, a teacher at Longfellow and Central, along with help from Robert “Bix” Swerman, who spent most of his time helping out the trumpet section on a chilly but sunny morning.

The Longfellow Middle School team was beaten out in their attempt to claim a third straight People’s Choice award. People’s Choice is selected by totaling up cash donations made at the booths — this year’s winner was a team of local Boy Scouts.

Teams also compete for Chef’s Choice and the President’s Choice, the personal favorite of State Bank Financial’s CEO and President Tim Kotnour, who was enjoying his first year at the event.

Also on hand was a team from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation and the School District of La Crosse School Nutrition Program.


See related media coverage:

Chili Cook Off raises money for DARE, GREAT and LPEF  • WKBT • Oct. 10, 2015