Wayne and Debbie Turner recently traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii to participate in the Hawaii State Chili Cookoff at the Round Top home of Dr. Jack Scaff and wife, Donna.
This is the 17th year the Scaffs have held this annual event, which is an officially sanctioned regional competition by the International Chili Society, at their home and this is the third time the Turners have attended.
Coming as a surprise guest was — then gray-bearded — Wayne as he showed up in full Western regalia, looking like Roy Rogers’ sidekick, Gabby Hayes.
“I went as a Gabby Hayes persona for fun because my wife does all the cooking,” Wayne said with a laugh. “I just thought it would be a fun thing to do…plus I love the attention.”
Scaff discovered Wayne as Gabby Hayes at the Original Terlingua Frank X. Tolbert Wick Fowler Memorial Championship Chili Cookoff, which is held the first weekend in November in Terlingua.
“Jack knew me before this event but he didn’t even recognize me dressed as Gabby Hayes,” Wayne said. “He knew that my wife and I were planning on coming to the Hawaii Chili Cookout and he asked if I would come dressed as the character.”
As Wayne entertained guests with his scruffy gray beard, his western clothing and his witty sense of humor, Debbie entertained judges with her 2 quarts of great-tasting red chili.
“It takes about three hours to cook the chili, which has to be cooked onsite,” Debbie explained, noting there were three categories of chili.
“There was the red chili category, the verde chili category and the salsa category,” she continued. “A lot of people competed in all three categories but I only participated in the red chili competition, which was the largest category. It was a fairly small cookoff because of the location in Honolulu.”
The chili was judged based on the aroma, color, consistency and the taste.
Although this event was advertised as a cookoff, Wayne said it was much more than that.
“It was a two-day party of an open-bar, food and great music for everybody so basically, cooking chili was just a way to have a party,” he said, with Debbie adding, “It was a beautiful place to go to meet wonderful people like the Scaffs and the cookoff was also great.”
Great it was as Debbie claimed the second place ribbon for her red chili while Wayne got his beard shaved.
“My wife won second place and I lost my hair,” Wayne laughed. “Getting my beard shaved was just another fun part of the event for the attention.”
Debbie has cooked in 35 states, two Canadian provinces and two Mexican states and said that she and her husband are planning to travel to North Dakota in two weeks to participate in the State Championship Chili Cookoff to qualify for the World Championship prize of $25,000.
Wayne will make his grand appearance as Gabby Hayes again for the Chuckwagon Cowboy camp in Terlingua in November and hopes to return to the Hawaii Chili Cookoff again next year.
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