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Bring a new person to a cook-off to cook.  Everyone needs to be involved in getting new people involved.  That is the lifeline of CASI.  New members become new friends and this is a big part of being a chili cook – the friendships.

Get Involved

Get involved with running judging.  Always ask the person who is running judging if you can help in any way. One person can not do it all.  Table monitoring is not hard.  You stand there and basically make sure judges are following the directions that are explained in the beginning of judging.  It will give you a better insight to the way CASI works.

Start A New Cookoff

If you know of any locations you feel would be a great chili cook-off event, please contact me and I’ll try to work on getting the event going.

I’m always wanting feed back.  Good or bad, please be open and honest with me.  If you would prefer something to be done differently let me know.  If you liked something, let me know.  I work hard to make the cooks happy and I like getting feed back so I can do things differently next time or make sure I do whatever is making the cooks happy again.

This is a write up from Sally after the 2008 Deland Florida State Championship.
“Hottest Event in Town”


DeLand, Florida is a mid-sized, tree-shaded university town, with deep roots into the 19th century. Winter home to John B. Stetson, of Stetson hat fame, it takes pride in its historical roots when early northern industrialists settled here. In 2002 the West Volusia Historical Society was looking for a way to raise funds, and a chili cookoff seemed like a good idea. The only member of the Board of Directors who had lived in Texas and had actually visited Terlingua (albeit in February when the chili pots were long cold) was Sally Bohon. She was, thus, deemed the only person who could reasonably know anything about chili cookoffs. She frantically fired off an SOS in the Florida Chili Page website and her call for help was answered by Ken Rodd and Bill Garbutt, God rest his soul.  

Bill and Ken came to DeLand to explain the ropes and the rest is chili history in this north-central Florida town. The first year it was held at the Fairgrounds and a collective sigh of relief went up when enough locals entered the CASI contest to swell the number to the required 15 CASI entrants. That year the winner was Rocky Rockwell from Rochester, NY, who has returned year after year to compete. CASI cooks from out of town pretty much swept the field, however, the locals became better cooks by virtue of watching them in action, and in years to come began taking some of the trophies themselves. As the cookoff grew and gained in popularity, it was moved into the historic downtown district. DeLand got into the spirit of the event. One year a cooking club of women donned chicken costumes and strutted the chicken dance up and down the avenue lined with cooks. It was a show-stopper!  

In 2004 Roger Foltz blew in from Texas on the day of the event, and waltzed out of town that night with the First Place trophy. Shortly thereafter he won the Terlingua International. We like to think he perfected his chili here in DeLand.  Other mentioned winners: Candi Knight-Arevalo (2005) Keith Bennett (2006) Kitty Dolan (2007).  This is the second year Kitty Dolan has walked away with the Florida State Champion title.

To be invited as a “Celebrity Judge” has become a much touted local badge of honor, and in 2008 the Open Contest created a separate panel of Judges following the CASI rules for blind tasting. Some seven years after the original cookoff, the event has grown to take on the mantle of the CASI Florida State Open Chili Championship in 2007. It is now co-partnered by the Historical Society and Main Street DeLand Association, a perfect combination to bring the citizens and merchants together to foster community involvement. The chili competition is the centerpiece of a spirited festival that includes live music, supervised kid’s activities, a wonderful beer garden and vendors. The gates have doubled and quadrupled over the years. 

This year the CASI competition proved to be a Knight-Arevalo Family Sweep. Candi Knight-Arevalo, Great Pepper of the Sunshine State Pod and second generation chili competitor, has been a staunch backer of the DeLand CCO for years. Her husband, Frank,bers  and her sister, Kristi Knight, from Lebanon, TN both entered the competition, the three of them cooking all in a row on the street. When the judges completed their blind tasting for 23 cups of chili and the dust had settled, the numbers were stripped from the cups to reveal that Frank, Candi, and Kristi had taken First, Second, and Third Place respectively. DeLand is proud to have delivered the ultimate CASI Florida State Open Chili Championship.

Sally Bohan