The Politics of Chili…Athens Police using humor to entice votes at community event

By  | February 16, 2017 | Filed under: News

ATHENS-In Athens, the competition at Hospice for Limestone County’s Chili Challenge for best booth design and best chili can be as fierce as any political campaign.


In recent years, the Athens Police Department has won Best Group Challenger Award for chili twice and Best Booth Design. APD is tapping into humor and politics to entice voters to name its booth the best at Saturday’s event. The department won last year by utilizing officer Michael Stainbrook dressed as a chicken doing flips and squawking.


“I know the chicken was extremely popular, but the chicken will not be roosting at Chili Challenge this year,” said Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson.


Officer Stainbrook instead will be the Statue of Liberty. APD’s theme is “Make Chili Great Again.” Investigators are attempting to construct APD’s booth into a replica of the White House. Officers may also dress in black suits and earpieces and stand guard.


Floyd Johnson

“The staff brainstorms each year to create a unique booth,” Johnson said. “This event allows us to be a part of a worthwhile community event and build camaraderie among officers. We also get to interact with the public in a positive manner, which helps build those community relationships you have to have to be an effective department.”


Hospice of Limestone County is the only non-profit Hospice that operates in the county. Chili Challenge is its only fundraiser. More than 30 teams will compete for various awards such as People’s Choice. Ticket holders get to sample each and vote for their favorite. A panel of judges – WAFF Meteorologist Brad Travis, Athens Main Street Executive Director Melanie Newton and Limestone County Commissioner Jason Black – will judge Best Booth, Best Group Challenger and Best Individual Challenger.


Hospice of Limestone County Executive Director Suzanne Paysinger said money raised from Chili Challenge, about $40,000, goes to help fund respite services provided to patients and their family members.

“Numerous families across Limestone County depend on the services Hospice of Limestone County provides,” Johnson said. “The Police

Limestone County Executive Director Suzanne Paysinger

Department wants to help Hospice continue those services.”


The event will be at Athens High School’s gym from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door for $10 each. For those who have not attended, here is the recipe for enjoying this 29th annual event.


Chili Challenge Event Recipe


  • The 29th annual Hospice of Limestone County Chili Challenge will be Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Athens High School’s gym. Cost is $10. Tickets available at the door.


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