Punxatawny Phil and Buckeye Chuck both made a prediction most people would rather not have heard, but the possible six-week extension of winter was not enough to stop a large, really enthusiastic, crowd of supporters from attending Auditor Mike Kovack's 23rd Annual Great Medina County Chili Cook-Off February 2, at the Medina Eagles.

Some of the county's most outstanding cooks prepared inviting varieties of chili recipes, including several takes on the traditional meat and bean style as well as vegan samplers. There was something to appeal to every palate.

The cooks each represented a local charity that would receive the prize money: $750 for the first place chili, and $250 for the second place chili. Winners were determined by popular vote; those attending used their admission tickets to write down their favorites and deposited them in ballot boxes.

This year's cooks were: Coleen Mahoney Morlock/Project: LEARN; Eileen Funk/The Children's Center of Medina County; Becky Blackmore/Rolling Thunder Charities; Bill and Elaine Lamb/Medina County SPCA; Karl Gerhard/The Salvation Army; Cornell Carter and Chad Daubenmire/Operation Homes; Robin Creswick/Let's Make Difference; Matt Reed/Wadsworth Masonic Temple Charities; and defending champion from last year, Seville Mayor Carol Carter/Seville Animal Hospital Good Samaritan Fund.

In a rare repeat, Mayor Carter again won the competition and the $750 prize money for her charity. Eileen Funk received second and the prize of $250 for her charity. Karl Gerhard came in third, for which he received from Auditor Kovack a handshake and a warm feeling for a job well done.

In addition to being able to sample excellent chili, guests enjoyed an array of fabulous desserts, contributed by "the best employees in the world, Medina County Auditor's staff." Kovack, a retired Commander in the United States Navy, was appointed Medina County Auditor in 1993. He and his staff have won numberous local, state, and national awards.

Several themed silent auction baskets, containing, among other things, items for pets, party supplies, and coffee and chocolate lovers, also enticed people to make generous bids.

The Annual Great Medina County Chili Cook-Off is the longet running chili cook-off in the county. Since its inception 23 years ago, more than $10,000 has been donated to local charities. This year's Century Club donors were John Bechke, Phil Horrisberger, Virginia Jeandrevin, Pat Oldfield, David Rogers, Hank Tillman, Russ Walters, and Michael Warner.

Anyone interested in competing in next year's cook-off may e-mail Kovack at ohiomike2162@aol.com.