The Panaca Fire Department hosted their annual four-alarm chili cook off last Saturday, Oct. 25. The volunteers hold a chili cook off and raffle prizes donated by local businesses and individuals, raising funds for the department and an individual of the community in need.

The department’s committee handling the cook off this year were Chairperson Nevin Birkmier, Tyler Free, Amanda Johnson and Nate Reeve. Reeve did most of the announcing on Saturday. He said, “it’s a big turnout.”

Johnson, an apprentice at the fire department, made the cornbread, and the public, as well as the fire departments turned out around two dozen crock pots of homemade chili to compete for first, second and third places.

This year, Reeve ordered a bounce house for the children to enhance the family atmosphere.

Marc Olson prepared the extra spicy chili that saw eight hungry competitors eating for the fastest time, for the prize of $100, donated by Mark Olson and Kerry Lee. Panaca resident Mark Rippetoe won the contest with a speedy 13.2 seconds.

The chili was judged and ranked. Within the fire departments, the first-place department receives the plaque that will stay in their fire station the next year. Hamblin Valley Volunteer Fire Department, under chief Jack Horner, took home the first place prize and bragging rights. In second place was Randy Johnson from Caliente Volunteer Fire Department. Ryan Cox from Panaca’s Volunteer Fire Department took third.

The public is also invited to compete for first, second and third. This year’s winners, all from Panaca, were Daniel and Amanda Stotler in first, Barbara Harris in second, and Terri Lee in third. Congratulations to the winners.

The tickets sold at the cook off were turned into a raffle that included unique prizes, including a free pet spay and neuter from the newly formed Loving Care Animal Society, Nevada State Park shirts, and items from Dougherty’s Jewelry, along with certificates to AnaLisa’s hair salon, the Brandin’ Iron restaurant, and the Cathedral Gorge Inn, when it opens.

This year’s funds went to Panaca resident Merlin Rohde, who has medical concerns. Rohde is well-known for his contributions to the community as well as helping build the Panaca Fire Station in 1999. “He provided all the labor and laid it [the firehall] out. It took him about three months, and he did it all himself,” said Harry Birkmier. Birkmier said he helped Rohde a few times, but that “he did it all,” including all the framing, building, treces and the floors.

Afterwards, the NDF Honor Camp came to complete the electrical wiring and other tasks so that it could open at the end of 1999.
$1,300 were raised to assist Rohde. Birkmier said, “We pick a recipient every year, and this is our chance to give back. The community has been great. We’re in our ninth or tenth year, and the community has always been behind us. We really owe it to these people.”