Standing in front of a vat of chili, Sertoma member Denny Kemper continues to stir what is the last batch for the day as the clock ticks toward the end of the Sertoma Chili Day on Thursday.
“We went with a couple of extra batches right off the bat and it is paying off,” Kemper said, explaining the group made approximately 140 gallons of chili this year. “It is going fast this year. We used to have to mix a couple of batches at the last minute, but I think we will be just right this year. We are right on target with what we served last year.”
Sertoma members begin preparation for the chili meal on Wednesday evening. Each batch of chili will be made in 10-gallon batches.
Sertoma members Alan Davis and Gary Herman said the group served between 1,200 and 1,300 people throughout the event which started at 11 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m.
“The weather has not been bad so the traffic has been steady and strong,” Davis said, as he places another hot dog on a tray and Herman pours chili into a bowl for the first person of the family of four. “We have a lot of people in here right now for dinner and the drive-thru is big this year.”
The group’s efforts will raise approximately $10,000 for the club. The club’s primary focus is helping children with speech and hearing problems, but they also support the Wapakoneta Family YMCA, the Wapakoneta WaterPark, recreational league teams and the Shriner’s Hospital.
Inside the Wapakoneta Knights of Columbus Hall, the tables are full with friends and families talking over bowls of chili at dinner time.
Drew Golden and his fiancee Abby Harrod talked about warmer temperatures as spring is fast approaching and enjoying their hot chili.
“I think the chili is really pretty darn good,” Golden said. “I really like coming out and talking with people and it is just a nice way to support the community and the Sertoma Club.”
Golden, who is a substitute teacher for Wapakoneta City Schools, bought the tickets through club members at the school.
Juanita and Lew Swanbeck frequent the chili day each year.
“The chili was very good,” Juanita Swanbeck said. “We come every year. We feel it is very important to support all the organizations and their efforts.”
Sitting with her mother and father, Tonya and Steve Henderson, and her brother, Adam, Kate Henderson, who comes every year and talked about her class work and dreams of being a registered nurse, summarized the meal easily.