The biggest annual chili cook-off in the area is Saturday at the Casper Events Center. The event is sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association in the country for the oil and natural gas industry and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, available at the box office or in advance at any SinclairTix outlets.
Now in its 27th year, the event was renamed the “Brian Scott Memorial API Chili Cook-off” after the death of longtime emcee and supporter Brian Scott Gamroth in September 2016.
Bob Dill of Automation & Electronics is part of the organizing committee, so we thought we’d chat with him.
How are plans coming along? It’s hard to believe this is our 27th annual. I’ve been on the board now probably 10 or 12 years, and before that, I was involved with Brian back when the event started, doing the sound.
How are the local charities who benefit selected? The process is they have to put in a yearly application. How much we are able to give out is dependent on the state of the oilfield and all. Some years we are able to donate more. The money comes from the raffles and sponsorships and the calcutta where the teams bet on each other. Six major sponsors donate $5,000 each and we have four in the next tier who donate up to $3,000 each. Most years we’re able to help upwards of 20 local charities. Since 2000, we’ve raised over $2 million; that’s huge.
Tell us about the theme. It’s “Cowboy Tough,” this year, and the theme is what I really look forward to. There can be so many different ways to interpret that. I imagine we’ll have some University of Wyoming Cowboys, some cowboy cowboys and if we get any Dallas Cowboys, we’ll have to put them in the back corner. Some groups go way out there and really decorate and others put up a few things. There is a showmanship prize that is for the best decorated booth and costumes of the people working it.
Talk about the raffle. Tickets are $20 each and there is a total of $15,000 in cash prizes, including a $10,000 cash grand prize. A maximum of 2,700 are being sold. You can get them from any API member or at the event, but you don’t need to be present to win. There’s also our gun raffle, which is very popular.
And there will be more than 40 chilies to taste? There usually is a waiting list for people who want to cook. The first preference is given to oilfield-affiliated companies or some who’ve been with us since day one, like Hilltop Bank and some car dealers and realtors. We have some new companies this year. Thru Tubing Solutions and Pro Oilfield are just a couple.
Do you set a goal for how much you’d like to raise? We never really set a goal; we hope for the best. Some years we raise $80,000 alone on the calcutta. We sure hope we get to the $100,000 mark.
And how many people will you see? We average about 3,500 in the three hours. It’s just a fun family event, but for safety, no strollers are allowed on the floor.