HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Saturday was a good day for chili aficionados at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center in Hannibal, Mo.
About a thousand people swarmed the 36th annual chili cook-off, many dressed in superhero attire. The masks, capes and utility belts matched the event theme: Soup-er Heroes Chili Cook-off.
The Hannibal Jaycees and Golden Eagle Distributing opened the doors at 11 a.m., and by early afternoon committed crowd members had sampled chili from all the booths.
The Shelbyville Moonshiners took top honors and donated the $1,000 prize back to the Hannibal Jaycees. Box Car Willie Chili took second place and the Nutters took third place. Copperhead Tavern won the People's Choice Award.
And everyone seemed to agree there were no losers.
"We're just here to have fun, said Quincyan Matt Vahle of the Nutters.
Brian Griffen of Hannibal, another member of the Nutters, looked around at people talking and eating chili or listening to music. A few people were dancing.
"It's a big gathering and a lot of fun," Griffen said.
Kami Harsell, one of the Jaycees co-chairmen, said Avenues, an agency that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence, will be the main beneficiary of the money raised at the event.
"We have 12 booths with chili this year. Quite a few of them have been here before," Harsell said.
In fact, the Shelbyville Moonshiners had made chili for the past 15 year,s and this was the first time they won top honors.
Box Car Willie Chili was put together by three friends who work on the railroad and make chili with individual spices. The recipe must be working because in the past eight years this is the fifth time the Box Car Willie team won one of the top prizes.
Mayor James Hark also presented Box Car Willie with the Mayor's Choice Award. Since this is the Hannibal Bicentennial year "this will be the only bicentennial trophy," Hark said.
"I feel blessed to be mayor," Hark said. "I got to taste every entry in here today and it wasn't an easy choice."
Hark also plugged the city's bicentennial website, which lists events of all types throughout the year.
Alex Fry from Perry, Mo., was serving up Kryptonite Chili while dressed as Wonder Woman. She has been involved in the cook-off for the past nine years. Her husband, Corey, has been making chili for the event for 19 years.
Despite the name, Kryptonite Chili didn't have extreme spices or cause weakness for any of the assembled superheroes.
"We make it mild so everybody can enjoy it," Fry said.