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Sheila Beller of Bakersfield, Calif. captured first place in Sunday’s Red Chili portion of the CasaBlanca Regional chili cook off. She is now headed for the world championships in October.

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An enthusiastic crowd participated in the Peoples Choice part of the giant chili cook off during the weekend at the CasaBlanca Resort raising an estimated $5,500 for Goodie Two Shoes.

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Kathy Plager of Littleton, Colo. won $1,500 during chili cook off competition Saturday at the CasaBlanca Resort.

Smokin’ Big Chili Challenge II raises about $5,500 for Goodie Two Shoes organization

The Smokin’ Big Chili Challenge II wrapped up a blockbuster two-day stand at the CasaBlanca Resort Sunday and the biggest winners were undoubtedly several hundred underprivileged young children who will be receiving new pairs of shoes.

               The Goodie Two Shoes foundation, was the  beneficiary of about $5,500 for the Peoples Choice part of the competition undoubtedly bringing smiles to many children in many kids in need.

               “We figure that it takes $25 per child to properly fit them with shoes,” said Nikki Berti, who co-founded Goodie Two Shoes nine years ago with her husband, Tony, a former  National Football League player.

        That said, about 220 pairs of shoes will be distributed thanks to the huge chili cook off. This particular event will go down as not only beneficial for young people but also a ton of fun for those hearty souls from Goodie Two Shoes who attend special events all year.

        “We do a lot of events and this one was a lot of fun,” said Berti, whose group also benefited from a Bunco tournament last year at the CasaBlanca. “We had a great time and the enthusiasm was through the roof.

        “We would love to come back again sometime.”

        The Peoples Choice category was won both days by Mesquite Gaming Food Director Bruce Landvik.

        The event actually included two separate days of competition.  Smokin’ Big Chili was presented Saturday with the CasaBlanca Regional conducted Sunday also on the grounds of the CasaBlanca.

        Winning in Saturday’s competition and headed for the world cook off is Kathy Plager, red, $1,500. Others finishing well on Saturday were Plager’s husband, Bob,  second place, red, $750; Chuck Harber, Chili Verde, $600; and Eileen Beaty, Salsa, $415.

             “The secret was getting the meat and the gravy perfect,” said Mrs. Plager, who won the world competition in 1998 in Las Vegas and pocketed $25,000. “It’s hard to get everything together, but I was able to do just that on Saturday.”

        Mr. Plager won the Tolbert International World Championship three times in 1996, 1998 and 2006.

        The Plagers will now travel to Phoenix in March for a back-to-back cook off with two days of qualifying.

        Among the big winners Sunday was Sheila Beller, a resident of Bakersfield, Calif., who captured the title in the Red Chili competition of the regional cook off Sunday.

        “I’m so excited,” said Beller, who now heads for Charleston, W.V. in October for the World Chili Championship and a chance to win $25,000. “This is my third time of going to the world championship and it will be as much fun this time as the other two times.

        “Hopefully we’re going to drive and make a road trip out of it,” she said adding that she has been making chili since the early 1970s. “I love going on the road. You get to see so much country when traveling. I’m really looking forward to not only the championship but also the trip, too.”

        Beller, who won $500 for her efforts, said she had a bad day Saturday simply because she was trying to do too much at once.

        “I was in Chili Verde and Red at the same and it just got to be too much. On Sunday, I paid attention and I followed recipe.”

        Beller has been to Mesquite three times.

        “I love Mesquite,” she said. “We were here for Thanksgiving and like to come to Mesquite primarily because of the weather. The weather here is a big plus.”

        Held in conjunction with the fourth annual Mesquite Motor Mania car show that drew more than 700 cars, Goodie Two Shoes undoubtedly benefited by the mass of fans and contestants that flocked the grounds of the hotel for three solid days.

               Chili cook off enthusiasts from several states competed with cooks coming from as far away as Galveston, Tex. and Bakersfield, Calif. along with others from Canada and Colorado.

               Further information regarding the chili cook offs can be found by visiting, or by calling Michele Evans of Mesquite Gaming at 888-711-4653, ext. 14.




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