The results are in for the ninth annual Gingerbread House Chili Cook-off and Barn Dance – with organizers reporting a most successful weekend.

The CASI-sanctioned chili competition and local celebrity mechanical bull riding drew several thousand people to the weekend family-friendly event at the Ellis County Expo Center. All proceeds benefit the Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center, which serves child victims of serious physical and or sexual abuse in Ellis County.

“Everything went smoothly,” said Mark Sanders of Ennis, who serves as regional representative for the NOW (north of Waco) Pod of Chili Appreciation Society International. “It was encouraging to see an increase in numbers of competitors in the novice and junior chili cook divisions. We’re hoping they want to come back and get even more involved and into the (CASI-sanctioned) competition.”

The NOW Pod’s great pepper (president), Kelly Brignon of Ennis, also described the weekend as having gone “great.”

“We judged 39 chilis Friday night, 61 on Saturday and 21 today,” she said Sunday as the event wrapped up. “And once again, the Gingerbread House and its volunteers did an outstanding job helping with the judging, putting the cookoff together and getting the public’s participation.”

Although there are several other cook-offs scheduled the same weekend, Brignon said the Gingerbread House one has gained a loyal following and continues to attract other cooks.

“We put on a great cook-off,” she said, noting three Terlingua winners – Bob and Doris Coats and Roger Foltz – were among the weekend’s competitors. Terlingua, Texas, is the site of CASI’s international championships, which are held in the fall.

“Everyone here is family,” she said. “Cooks will drive a 100 miles or more to a cook-off they know and like and pass up something that’s 20 miles away they don’t know anything about.

“Because this has been going on nine years now, we get a lot of repeat attendees,” she said. “Another attraction is that it is a three-day event and people can earn enough points in one weekend to qualify for Terlingua.”

Brignon herself won five points over the weekend, wrapping up the points she needed to qualify already for Terlingua 2010. Even better, she said, was taking first place on Saturday in CASI-sanctioned chili while her daughter, Paige, took first place in the junior chili cook competition, with another daughter, Zoe, placing fifth. Her husband, Gary, also collected points over the weekend, placing second and sixth in the Friday and Sunday CASI-sanctioned chili cook-offs, respectively.

“It’s a family affair for us,” Kelly Brignon said. “We cook as a family.”

Brignon encourages those interested in chili competition to attend a CASI-sanctioned chili cook-off and visit with the cooks and either the great pepper or regional CASI representative on site. There’s also information on the organization’s Web site

“They can click on recipes and I recommend Bob Coats’ (Terlingua-winning) one. They can cook his recipe and they are well on their way to being able to compete. I started out cooking that recipe and it’s one of the best out there,” she said. “Go to a cook-off and join a local pod. There are always cooks willing to help.”

Brignon also said anyone with questions can e-mail her directly at

Among the weekend’s activities was a raffle drawing by the Gingerbread House.

Winning the zero-turn riding lawnmower raffle was Kelly Schmidt of Maypearl.

“I work for Vintage Bank and bought two tickets the day they were brought by the bank,” she said. “I had debated doing that because I never win anything, but I called my husband and asked him if he wanted me to buy a couple of tickets.

“It’s been his dream to have one of these mowers,” Schmidt said, adding with a smile, “This could be his Valentine’s, birthday and next Christmas’ present.” 

Winning the bracelet in the raffle was Shan Tropp of Midlothian, with Nick Hester of Waxahachie winning the Home Depot tools.

Competition results from this weekend:

Local celebrity mechanical bull riding

Men’s Division – name, riding for, Friday night score, Saturday night score (if a finalist):

•Carl Ritchlin – Neighborhood Credit Union – 14.390 – 25.564

•Ben Cowan – Vintage Bank – 13.713 – 18.567

•Chad West – Neighborhood Credit Union – 14.877 – 18.290

•Frank Bartolic – GAF Elk Corporation – 8.459

•Derek Johnston – Cheryl Chambers for Ellis County treasurer – 18.297 – 24.907

•Mike Navarro – Ellis County Auditor – 13.898 – 15.141

•Todd Evans – Gingerbread House – 16.192 – 24.147

•Darrin Ray – Ellis County Juvenile Services – 6.588

•Jeff Thompson – Ellis County Juvenile Services – 8.098

•Corey Girman – Vintage Bank – 3.859

•Greg Helton – Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce – 13.816 – 12.250

•Adrian Sanchez – Citizens National Bank – 9.126

•Rex Rexrode – Waxahachie Daily Light – 9.713

•Corey Allman – FHC Contracting – 18.345 – 20.472

•Austin Arms – Ark Country Store – 18.397 – 28.950 (first place)

•Cody Martin – Cheryl Chambers for Ellis County treasurer – 12.939 – 26.942 (second place)

•Kyle Beller – BAT Fire and Security – 9.464

•Eric Stephens – Citizens National Bank – 8.961

•Joey Scarbrough – Utiliquest – 2.790

•Neal White – Waxahachie Daily Light – 12.596

Women’s Division – name, riding for, Friday night score, Saturday night score (if a finalist):

•Megan Purdue – Vintage Bank – 13.731

•Rachel Underwood – Ark Country Store – 14.406

•Dallas Miller – Citizens National Bank – 20.411 – 25.779 (second place)

•Stephanie Chambers – Cheryl Chambers for Ellis County treasurer – 21.853 – 20.185

•Erica Rios – Lynn Winborne, attorney at law – 12.738

•Jamie Ermatinger – Cindy Ermatinger for district judge – 17.735 – 26.386 (first place)

•Jennifer Rash – Citizens National Bank – 14.865 – 18.186

•Elizabeth Scarbrough – stay at home moms – 14.617 – 20.745

•Katie Lee – Relay For Life – 12.703

•Donna Jeffereys – schoolteachers – 14.661 – 15.136

Friday chili cook-off

CASI-sanctioned chili (39 entries)

1 – Ron Baker of Ennis

2 – Gary Brignon of Ennis

3 – Angie Anderson of Ennis

4 – Mark Sanders of Ennis

5 – Courtney Bowden of Ferris

6 – Rosa Gonzalez Johnston of Corsicana

7 – Bonnie Loxterman of Rowlett

8 – Beth Moon of Hurst

9 – Kelly Brignon of Ennis

10 – Jimmy Johnston of Corsicana

Show competition

1 – Hard Hat Chili – Darrell Baxter of Grand Prairie

2 – Telico Volunteer Fire Department – Don and Retha Pechal of Telico

3 – Dr. Ray Calhoun of Waxahachie

Saturday chili


CASI-sanctioned chili (61 entries)

1 – Kelly Brignon of Ennis

2 – Patrick Sullivan of Mansfield

3 – Karen Bowden of Malakoff

4 – Toni Bowman of Rowlett

5 – Tina Barnes of Euless

6 – Rosa Gonzalez Johnston of Corsicana

7 – Dr. Ray Calhoun of Waxahachie

8 – Roger Foltz of Mesquite

9 – Greg Goodwin of Waxahachie

10 – Jimmy Johnston of Corsicana

Show competition

1 – 3 Knuckleheads – Terry Skipper of Waxahachie

2 – Hard Hat Chili – Darrell Baxter of Grand Prairie

3 – Telico Volunteer Fire Department – Don and Retha Pechal of Telico

Novice competition (16 entries)

1 – Regina Burton of Waxahachie

2 – Mike Rogers of Rice

3 – Tammy Still of Waxahachie

4 – Jerry Campbell of Waxahachie

5 – Matt Hardy of Venus

6 – Jeff Allen of Hurst

7 – Jenny Grant of Waxahachie

8 – Brad Braden of Waxahachie

9 – Russell Phillips of Waxahachie

Junior chili cook

competition (16 entries)

1 – Paige Brignon of Ennis

2 – Mackenzie Fieseler of Irving

3 – Blake Sexton of Rockwall

4 – Kelsey Dozier of Irving

5 – Zoe Brignon of Ennis

6 – Casey Carney of Irving

7 – Ty Kriska of Ennis

8 – Mykala Burton of Waxahachie

9 – Jacob Bunch of Waxahachie

Beans competition (19 entries)

1 – Mark Sanders of Ennis

2 – Vicki Sanders of Ennis

3 – Tina Barnes of Euless

Sunday chili


CASI-sanctioned chili (21 entries)

1 – Dr. Ray Calhoun of Waxahachie

2 – Tom Dozier of Irving

3 – Courtney Bowden of Ferris

4 – Dee Palmer of Mansfield

5 – Rosa Gonzalez Johnston of Corsicana

6 – Gary Brignon of Ennis

7 – Karen Bowden of Malakoff

8 – Bonnie Loxterman of Rowlett

9 – Toni Bowman of Rowlett

10 – Paul Seastrunk of Garland

Show competition

1 – Telico Volunteer Fire Department – Don and Retha Pechal of Telico

2 – Lair of the Fox – Toni Bowman of Rowlett

3 – Dr. Ray Calhoun of Waxahachie