(WATERTOWN, NY) – The 21st Annual North Country Chili Cook-Off was held Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Dulles State Office Building, with 32 teams competing for top bragging rights and cash prizes.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc., with proceeds to help fund medical transportation for local veterans and their families through the nonprofit organization. Though the amount raised is being calculated, it’s estimated the event will be on par with last year, raising about $35,000.

“This event was an awesome show for our community, and show how special our veterans are and supporting the Volunteer Transportation Center,” said American Legion Auxiliary Department of New York Leadership Chairperson Amy McEathron, who served as this year’s North Country Chili Cook-Off chairperson. “The weather was great and the comments were awesome.”

“I am sure the State Office Building will smell like chili all week,” she said with a laugh.

“This was another excellent year for the North Country Chili Cook-Off,” said VTC Executive Director Sam Purington. “We had a lot of great entries and a huge crowd. Thankfully, the weather cooperated better than we’ve had in recent years.”

“It was a great day for chili and a great day for us to share our mission with the community,” he added.

Attendees were able to taste chili from each of the participating teams, sampling traditional styles and ones with different takes like white chicken chili, vegetarian chili, vegan chili and chili with fish.

“We certainly had something for everyone,” said VTC Foundation Director Jeremiah S. Papineau. “This was just a great event on a great day for a great cause. It was perfect.”

Winners for the event included:


TEAM: Garland City Beer Works
CHEF: Nancy Henry
SPONSOR: Garland City Beer Works, Watertown

TEAM: Samaritan Summit Village
CHEF: Shawn McManaman
SPONSOR: Samaritan Summit Village, Watertown

TEAM: Philly Fire
CHEF: Alex Peer
SPONSOR: Philadelphia Fire Department


TEAM: Amy Kenney-Keller Williams
CHEF: Amy Kenney
SPONSOR: Amy Kenney-Keller Williams, Watertown

TEAM: Chili on The ROCK
CHEF: Sabrina Jamerson
SPONSOR: The ROCK Church, Watertown

TEAM: Zeb & Eunice’s Hillbilly Chili
CHEF: Brian LaChausse & Naomie Brigham
SPONSOR: Crossroads Tavern, Naumburg, and Red Barn Meats, Croghan


TEAM: Baked
CHEF: Chris Fitzgerald
SPONSOR: Chris Fitzgerald

TEAM: Freeway Driving School
CHEF: Anthony Garcia
SPONSOR: Freeway Driving School, Watertown

TEAM: Carthage Revolution
CHEF: Louis Gantt
SPONSOR: Carthage Revolution


TEAM: Philly Fire
CHEF: Alex Peer
SPONSOR:Philadelphia Fire Department

TEAM: Brownville American Legion Post 588
CHEF: Ferg
SPONSOR: Brownville American Legion Post 588

Additional award winners included:

  • Best Decorated ($50): Philly Fire, sponsored by the Philadelphia Fire Department, and led by chef Alex Peer
  • Best Dressed ($50): Watertown German-American Club, sponsored by the Watertown German-American Club and led by chef Barbara Eddy
  • Most Unusual Recipe ($50): Samaritan Summit Village, sponsored by Samaritan Summit Village and led by chef Shawn McManaman
  • Most Congenial ($50): Samaritan Summit Village, sponsored by Samaritan Summit Village and led by chef Shawn McManaman

The 21st Annual North Country Chili Cook-Off received the support of many local sponsors, including Underwriting Sponsors: Watertown Savings Bank, Stewart’s Shops, Purcell Construction Corp./The Delaney Bay Fund, United Food Service Operators, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Tunes 92.5FM, WWNYTV7/ WNYF28/MeTV, the Watertown Daily Times/NNY360.com and the Jefferson County American Legion Family.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of our Underwriting Sponsors and all other levels of support,” said Mr. Papineau.

Additional sponsors included:

• Platinum Level – Knowlton Technologies, Price Chopper, Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown Internists, and Victory Promotions.

• Gold Level – Benefit Services Group, Disabled Persons Action Organization, Amy Kenney-Keller Williams, Kinney Drugs Foundation, Massey’s Furniture Barn, North Country Insurance Company, Rose & Kiernan, Sam’s Club, State CS Employee Federal Credit Union, The ARC of Jefferson-St. Lawrence, and Wal-Mart Supercenter.

• Silver Level – Advanced Business Systems; American Legion Post 1788; American Legion Post 583; American Legion Post 588 SAL; American Legion Post 789 ALA; American Legion Post 904 SAL; Barrett Paving Materials, Inc.; Car Freshner; Carthage Area Hospital; Crowley & Halloran, CPAs, P.C.; Cheney Tire; DOCO Quick Print, Inc.; GEICO Insurance Watertown; GYMO; Haylor, Freyer, & Coon; Independent Medical Evaluation Company; Ives Hill Retirement Community; Jefferson County American Legion; Lake Ontario Realty; Northern Nurse Practitioners; Northwestern Mutual/Steve Yelle; RBC Wealth Management; Watertown Hearing Aid Center; Watertown International Airport; and Watertown PBA.

• In-Kind Support – Blue Mountain Spring Water; Doldo Bros.; Gray’s Flower Shop; Hannaford Supermarket; JRECK Subs; Panera Bread; Pepsi Bottling Group; Staples; The Coughlin Group; Victory Promotions; Waste Management; and ZAPET Vibrations Disc Jockey Service.


The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC), established in 1991, drives thousands of miles each year assisting community members in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. Over the last 20 years, this essential non-profit organization has provided rides to health care appointments, grocery shopping, and other destinations for residents.

In 2018, our volunteer drivers provided over 414,558 miles of transportation in Jefferson County alone, and over 777,123 miles across Northern New York. Data from 2019 is currently being compiled.

The staff, Board of Directors and volunteer drivers look forward to a time when transportation to community activities and services is accessible to all North Country residents regardless of economic or specialized needs. But for now the mission drives on — striving to provide transportation to health, wellness and critical needs destinations utilizing volunteers and mobility management for anyone who has barriers to transportation.

For more information about how you can help the Volunteer Transportation Center or to become a volunteer driver, contact the agency at 315-788-0422. To learn more, visit www.VolunteerTransportationCenter.org.