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Friends of Tryon Creek to host annual chili cook-off this Saturday

There's nothing like a hot, steaming bowling of chili to warm up on a cold, rainy mid-January night - except maybe two, three or four bowls of chili plus cornbread, drinks and entertainment.

Local chili experts and amateurs will be going head to head at a local competition, vying for the title of 'Chili Master' of the year.

The Friends of Tryon Creek will host their fourth annual chili cook-off this Saturday, Jan. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area in the nature center.

The event will feature up to 15 competitors bringing their best concoctions to the table. One of the teams is a pair of preteen girls, who are sure to add to the mix, according to Sarah Kreisman, Friends of Tryon Creek volunteer and outreach coordinator.

Not only will visitors be able to sample as much chili as they can hold, volunteers will be making cornbread. There will also be beer from Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery and wine from Trader Joe's. The setting will be complete with the live acoustic music of Karen Jorgensen singing and playing guitar.

Kreisman said the event is family-friendly.

Tasters can vote for their favorite chili, naming the 'Chili Master' for the year, as well as awarding first and second place.

Last year's winner was Liz Kidd. Two Lake Oswegans will be participating this year, Anne Wilson and Ann Meub.

Raffle tickets for door prizes will be on sale. Many Lake Oswego and West Linn businesses and outdoor stores donated prizes.

Kreisman invites 'anyone and everyone' who has never visited Tryon Creek to come to the cook-off. She recommends exploring the trails that traverse the 670-acre park before the cook-off while it is still light outside.

'Come in, drink beer and wine and eat as much chili as you can,' said Kreisman. 'It's a cold winter night and we'll have a nice, warm and cozy nature center.'

The cost is $5 a person and free for members of the Friends of Tryon Creek (annual membership is $30 for individuals and $40 for families).

Proceeds from the cook-off go toward the park restoration and educational programs at the park. The park offers programs for adults, like landscaping for conservation, and children, like evening guided hikes through the park looking for raccoons.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area is located at 11321 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd. in southwest Portland. For details and a schedule of events, visit www.tryonfriends.org.