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History of Chili Cook-Off

26th Annual Muskogee Exchange Club Chili and Barbeque Cook-OffOn a chilly April morning in 1984 less than a hundred folks milled around on the fair grounds for the first Muskogee Chili Cook-Off. There were 19 teams gathered to cook C.A.S.I. Chili as a storm front came through and took down all of the cook's tents.

Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off Crowd PhotoIn 1985 the Second Annual Exchange Club Chili Cook-Off took place at their new location in front of the civic center with 39 teams and a thousand or so folks coming to see what that strange odor and noise was. The cook-off continued to grow and in 1987 barbeque was added. The response was tremendous! Over 50 teams entered some six events and, combined with all the games and contests, the crowds numbered in the thousands for this springtime festival of fun.

In 1993, with the cook-off growing by leaps and bounds, the decision was made to find a larger location to host the event. The Ninth Annual Exchange Club Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off was moved to the Phoenix Plaza Parking area where close to a hundred teams and well in excess of ten thousand people enjoyed the food, friends and fellowship of this annual Exchange Club event.

The Exchange Club Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off has become one of the largest single day events in the area -- attracting tens of thousands to our great City of Muskogee. Retailers tell us that this has become one of their best days for sales. Local restaurants talk of great traffic flow to their businesses. But for all the good food, good fun and good fellowship that this event holds, the main focus still continues from the early years of the Exchange Club involvement. That focus is to raise money for local charities and give back to this community. It has become our way of saying thank you to Muskogee for a great place to work and live.

--Bill Evans
   Copyright © 2005-2014 MEC Muskogee chapter has chosen to support local agencies dealing with child abuse issues & terminally ill children.
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Muskogee Exchange Club is one of hundreds of charters of the National Exchange Club. There are approximately 65 local members, making us the largest Exchange Club in Oklahoma. The chapter meets every Tuesday at noon for lunch at Cowboys. Visitors and prospective new members are welcome. The Exchange Club of Muskogee works to respond to numerous local charities, community problems, school needs and other requests for donations. We want to be there, when we can, for our community with our charitable funds. Over $600,000 has been donated to various charities and organizations within our community. While National Exchange Club focuses its attention on child abuse prevention, chapters are encouraged to support local charities. Since the mid 80's, the local chapter has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars with an emphasis toward children's issues and the terminally ill. Nationally, the Exchange Clubs primary project is child abuse prevention. Locally, the Muskogee chapter has chosen to support Muskogee agencies dealing with child abuse issues and terminally ill children. (remove this text).   (insert text) The C.A.S.A., Court Appointed Special Advocate program is a non-profit organization whose mission is to recruit, screen, train and supervise community volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children. The single purpose of a C.A.S.A. is to protect and guide the child through the court system to help them find a safe, nurturing and permanent home. Susan Hendrickson, Volunteer Advocate Coordinator, thanked the Exchange Club for the generous donation stating, "the money will be used to support and train our 50 C.A.S.A. volunteers." Kids Space, the Muskogee County Child Advocacy Center, is a child-friendly facility providing a wide variety of services to abused & neglected children and their non-offending parent. According to Scott Stewart, Kids Space board member, "the center's main goal is to decrease the trauma experienced by these children by providing a non-threatening, comfortable environment for interviews and necessary procedures by law enforcement personnel, social service representatives and medical professionals. This donation is greatly appreciated and will make a difference in the lives of the children we serve."