Campaign Launches!

The United Way of Bemidji Area’s Chili Cook-Off was held Wednesday, September 16, 2015 at The Sanford Center, kicking off the United Way’s 29th annual campaign for the community.  Thirty cooks lined the parameter of the Sanford Center Ballroom, serving a variety of chili. With close to 400 people in attendance, the event raised money for this year’s campaign.
During the program, Bill and Jodi Maki, United Way Campaign Chairs, announced the total amount raised to-date by United Way’s eight pacesetter businesses. Pacesetter businesses set the pace for United Way’s campaign by conducting their workplace campaigns early. Together, pacesetter businesses raised a total of $160,057.37 for the United Way of Bemidji Area. This amount is just about 40% of the United Way’s overall campaign goal of $415,000.
The 2015 Pacesetter businesses are AmeriPride Services, Beltrami Electric Cooperative, First National Bank Bemidji, North Country Business Products, Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota, RiverWood Bank, Target, and United Parcel Service (UPS).
This year’s five celebrity Chili Cook-Off judges were Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications; Warren Larson, Sanford Health; Karl Haldorson, RP Broadcasting; Brandon Thompson, Ken K Thompson Jewelry; and Andrea Ohnstad, Boys and Girls Club of Bemidji Area. They judged the twenty-nine chili recipes based on the aroma, taste, texture, appearance and creativity.They judged the thirty chili recipes based on the aroma, taste, texture, appearance and creativity.
Awards to chili cooks were given in various categories:
1st Place Celebrity Division Chili:   Paul Bunyan Broadcasting (3rd year in a row)
1st Place Business Division Chili:  Counselor Realty of Bemidji (2nd year in a row)
1st Place Restaurant Division Chili:  Red Cedar Grill from Palace Casino (2nd year in a row)
1st Place Corporate Division Chili:  Eldercare of Bemidji (2nd year in a row)
1st Place Non-Profit Division Chili:   Churches United (2nd year in a row)
Most Creative Chili Cook Award:  Girl Scouts
Best Presentation Award:  Real Living First Realty
Best Name Award:  Karvakko Engineering's "Jamaican My Tast Buds Crazy"
Taster’s Choice:  North Country Business Products
Best Overall Chili Award:  Pinnacle
The United Way campaign for the community will run through October 31.  Funds raised are invested in Bemidji area non-profit agencies and programs that address the root-causes of the most serious human needs in our community and create real, lasting change in people’s lives, in the areas of:  Education – helping children, youth and adults achieve their full potential; Income – promoting financial stability increasing self-sufficiency; and, Health – improving people's health and social well-being, and providing basic needs/crisis emergency services. 
For more information about the United Way, the campaign, or to make a donation please call (218) 444-8929.