ALAMEDA -- It's bound to be a "chili" night Jan. 26.

Every year at the officers' club at Alameda Point comes the night when men and women clomp through the door in their cowboy boots and western shirts and high-tail it over to the tables and tables of warm beanie concoctions.

It's good for the belly, and it's also good for students and other local people who can use a hand to succeed. The Kiwanis Club's 14th annual Chili Cook-Off and Barbecue is a triple-duty event: it gives the cooks a chance to shine and win a prize; it gives people an evening of chili appetizer samples and auctions, raffles and dancing; and it gives people an all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner by Back Forty Texas BBQ. A professional line dancer will offer up a lesson to help kick off the country dance theme.

In the past, chili recipes have ranged from the traditional, with mild and spicy bean-and-meat blends, to more individualized dishes, with additions of mushrooms, chocolate or V8 juice and other ingredients.

Bob Larsen, the city's Kiwanis Club president, said one of the more memorable samples he tasted at the event was a chili made with venison. The 10 entries will be judged by attendees in the people's choice category and by professional culinary judges.

Money made from the contest will be spent on good causes. The nearly 90-year-old Alameda club funds one- and four-year grants to graduates of Alameda's high schools to assist with college costs. Each May, the club honors a group of Alameda eighth-grade students for their leadership, citizenship and scholastic abilities. The club is also a sponsor of the annual Special Olympics Bowling Tournament in Alameda, being on hand to assist with bowling, scoring and awards presentations.


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There are several other community activities the club helps with, including regularly delivering warm meals to housebound Alamedans for Meals on Wheels.

Larsen said the club, which has about 40 members, made $20,000 at last year's event and it all went to youth and charity programs.

IF YOU GO
What: Kiwanis Club of Alameda's 14th annual Chili Cook-Off and Barbecue Dinner
When: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Jan. 26.
Where: Al DeWitt Officers' Club, 641 W. Redline Ave. in Alameda Point.
Tickets: $50 for adults and $25 for children 5 to 12, with free admission for children younger than 5.