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Speical Section: Altamont Fair Preview Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 7, 2008

Chili cook-off
An Army Strong taste-testing

By Zach Simeone

ALTAMONT — Our military is expanding its sphere of culinary influence into the village. On Aug. 16, for the first time ever, the Altamont Fair will host the Army Strong Chili Cook-off.

“We’re serving the community and having some fun,” said Captain Karl Ludeman, organizer of the event. He’s in charge of Army recruiting for the tri-city area. “This is a first time thing for me,” he said.

“It’s the first time we’ve entered into a sponsorship with the U.S. Army, and the support from Hannaford Supermarkets is making it possible,” said Marie McMillan, manager of the Altamont Fair.

“We’ve been told a number of times by different firemen that they do this in different places, and they’ve said we ought to do a chili cook-off, or a barbecue,” McMillan said. “So we talked with Hannaford Supermarkets and the consensus was a chili cook-off.”

There will be recruiters present at the fair, as there are every year, McMillan said. “This year, they told us they wanted to sponsor something.”

“I and a couple representatives from the Army will be judging it,” said Ludeman. After tasting the different chilis made by the entrants, the four judges will choose a winner based on whichever chili best represents the “Army strong” slogan, he said.

“The fair is great because it kind of pulls people from a large area, which gives us a chance to meet individuals who might be interested in joining the military,” said Ludeman. “Also, some of the National Guard has been attending the fair for years, so in a way we’re kind of jumping on the bandwagon.”

In addition to taste-testing the skills of others, the Army will be engaging of in a bit of cookery itself. “The Army cooking team that travels the country out of Fort Lee, Virginia, will be doing food presentations every night at 8 p.m.,” said McMillan.

It’s all part of what Ludeman called Total Army Involvement Recruiting, or TAIR. “Some of our recruiters are driving in the demolition derby, too,” he said.

“There will also be cooking programs by the Albany County Cooperative Extension at 2 and 4 p.m.,” McMillan said. “So, three times a day, we will be doing some form of cooking in the commercial building.”

Those interested in participating in the cook-off can stop at a local Hannaford Supermarket and pick up an application. “The cutoff for applications is the 13th of August,” said McMillan.

When applying, contestants will have to select from the following entry categories: vegetarian, traditional, or Army Strong, the latter of which is a contest of spiciness. Applications should be mailed to, or dropped off at, the Altamont Fair.

On the day of the cook-off, entrants are expected to be at Gate Three by 3 o’clock with their chili in a crock-pot, already fully prepared. “I will have a list of those who have signed up,” McMillan said, “and those ready with their crock-pots will get in free.”

To the first-prize winner goes a $100 food card from Hannaford Supermarkets, while the second-place winner takes home a $25 card.

McMillan sees the cook-off as a great addition to the fair. “Cooking has become a real favorite form of entertainment, and it’s only getting more and more popular,” she said. “I mean, look at all the TV shows and cooking programs. We think it will be nice to have a local competition where people can hone their skills.”

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