Rawls wins again in chili cookoff

by Paige Turner

For many, chili is the epitome of a winter meal that screams cold weather comfort. For some, chili is a cowboy’s go-to entrée, filled with heartiness and rugged pride. For Renewal Ranch, chili is another way to keep the doors open and clients in a faithful place.

Nearly three years ago, Renewal Ranch, a non-profit organization devoted to helping men overcome addiction through treatment and faith, opened its facility. It is during those beginning stages as an organization that Renewal Ranch began a chili cook-off as an annual fundraiser.

The chili competition is judged in three categories: traditional, spicy and wild game. Three judges score the chili, which has been anonymously submitted by contestants, on several areas including taste.

“The cook-off is a lot of fun,” said Margaret Smith, a member of the Renewal Ranch Leadership Team. “The chili is good, and the entertainment is so uplifting.”

Marsha Rawls, third-year consecutive winner of the spicy category, says she enjoys being a part Renewal Ranch in any way possible.

“It’s a ministry that’s really close to my heart,” Rawls said. “Any way that I can help to support the organization financially and in other ways, I make sure that I do what I can to try and participate. I feel like as a supporter, it’s part of my duty.”

Smith says she not only enjoys the chili and entertainment, but also the opportunity the men staying at Renewal Ranch get to reconnect with their families, faith and community through service.

“I think it’s so encouraging to see the family members and men of Renewal Ranch getting involved in our fundraisers,” Smith said. “The testimonies are what really moves me. To hear where some of these men have been and how Renewal Ranch has turned that around for them is very powerful.”

Rawls says next year’s cook-off is set to “be the best one yet,” with bigger entertainment, more chili recipes, a raffle and a silent auction. The chili cook-off is open to the public and requires a small admission fee for guests and an entry fee for any chili competitors.

While the competition is all in good fun, Rawls says the message and purpose of Renewal Ranch is what is ultimately always being celebrated.

“I enjoy winning,” Rawls said. “But the greatest joy is in being a part of an organization that is bringing the truth of who Christ is to men and their families and helping them overcome the effects of drugs and alcohol.”

For more information about Renewal Ranch, visit therenewalranch.org.


Brown ground beef meat (quantity at the cook’s discretion or substitute other meat), and sauté onions in large pot.

Add the following as you like in quantities desired:

Black pepper
Black beans
Red kidney beans
Mushrooms (optional)
Yellow/red bell peppers
Lemon pepper
Crush red pepper
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste 
Worcestershire sauce
Cane sugar