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Calling all chefs: Elks Lodge makes preparations for this year's chili competition

Do you suspect that your homemade chili recipe could be award-winning? If so, you’re invited to whip up a batch and enter the Elks' Chili Competition this Saturday, April 27, with a chance to win bragging rights, a few prizes, and all proceeds help support children in the community
The upcoming Chili Challenge will take place on Saturday, April 27, starting at 12 p.m. at the Legion Lounge.

Do you suspect that your homemade chili recipe could be award-winning? If so, you’re invited to whip up a batch and enter the Elks Lodge No. 7 Chili Competition this month with a chance to win bragging rights, a few prizes, and all proceeds help support local children in need.

This year’s Chili Challenge will continue with its traditional venue at the Legion Lounge and the public is invited to attend with doors opening at 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

“Coercion (and bribery) are encouraged, so come out and have some fun – that’s what it’s all about, and to raise funds for the community,” announced Bonnie Bender, president of Moose Jaw Elks Lodge No. 7.

All entrants need only bring a crock pot filled to the brim with their finest home-made chili, and the organizers will take care of everything else including shredded cheese, crackers, and cutlery.

Judging for the dishes each year is handled by three easily recognizable members of the community in the spirit of keeping things transparent (aside from overt and permissible attempts at sabotage, bribery, and coercion, that is).

In past, such individuals as the executive director of the Five Hills Health Region, local MLAs, and the president of the Chamber of Commerce have swung the gavel. This year, Ron and Joyce Walter will serve as judges along with the Legion’s president, Bob Travele.

Ron Walter has been a long-serving supporter of the Elks and his wife, Joyce, is another prominent supporter of the Friends of the Forces Fellowship. The Legion assists her in turn with the Fellowship’s annual car show.

Travele was asked to sit on the judges’ bench this year because of the ongoing support shown to the Elks Lodge by the Legion, and as a way to show appreciation for allowing the competition to be held in the Legion’s lounge area.

Some might point out that the judges could possibly be open to bias – as they are all heavily involved in both the Legion and the Elks Lodge – but Bender isn’t too concerned.

“We are willing to let the judges be paid off, if necessary,” she confirmed. “That’s all part of the fun.”

The competition started back when the Elks Lodge was exclusively open to male memberships. To accommodate females interested in the same social goals, a second organization called Royal Purple was founded to run alongside the Elks.

One way the two organizations settled their differences was through “a fun little rivalry” which led to the founding of the light-hearted chili competition.  

Then, during the early 2000s, membership rules changed to accommodate both sexes and the two organizations amalgamated into one – the Elks Lodge.

This merger didn’t heal the need for a friendly rivalry, of course. Now, though, there’s a twist — without the pesky male-female rivalry to contend with, members of the community are now invited to compete against one another in their stead.

All proceeds from the ongoing event go towards helping families and children in the community through supporting such organizations as the Moose Jaw Health Foundation, the Transition House, the Moose Jaw & District Food Bank, and several others.

“We just try to do as much as we can to help out everybody,” said Bender. “I’ve got a great group of people that I work with; they’re very charitable and want to give to the community.”

The competition is open to everyone, and you don’t have to be a registered member of either the Elks Lodge or the Legion to participate.

“We’re just here to give back to the community and have some fun and put some smiles on faces while we do it.”

To enter the Chili Challenge, all you have to do is contact either Bonnie Bender at 306-631-0830 or Tracy Lichacz at 306-630-4759. You can also submit your request to

The fee is $10 per entrant, and the deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 24. The challenge will take place in the Legion Lounge located at 268 High Street West.

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