PHOTOS: 14th Annual Benton Drive Chili Cook-off

For 14 years, the neighbors on Benton Drive in Frankfort Square have put their chili to the test.

It was Super Bowl Sunday 14 years ago. A group of neighbors living on or near Benton Drive in Frankfort Square gathered to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.

One of the neighbors lamented that the Village of Frankfort was holding its annual chili cook-off that same day.

"We should have our own chili cook-off," chimed in Ken Bucyk.

One thing led to another and the Benton Drive Chili Cook-Off was born.

More than a decade later, the event has taken on a life of its own.

At the end of September or beginning of October, the previous year's winner plays host, which amounts to providing tables and electricity for the dozen or so crockpots that show up holding chili entries from neighbors.

"We have had anywhere from 10 to 18 entries," said Bucyk. "Most years we average about 10."

On Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 crockpots dotted the judging tables at the home of last year's winner, Lesley Shworles.

Rules are simple. Entries cost $5, you agree to host if you win (or if the winner is your guest) and aside from no commercial chilis, anything goes. Over the years, there have been green chilis, white chilis, beanless chilis and wild game chilis.

This year's winner was Joe Cwiak of Mokena (by one vote), so Shworles will host again next year. The runner-up was Scott Weidner of, where else, Benton Drive.

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