The event raised approximately $700 that will be donated to Meals That Connect through Atascadero Senior Center

ATASCADERO — On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 2814 of Atascadero hosted its second Chili Cookoff. The community came out to support the veterans and seniors of the North County from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and could pay $5 to taste all the tasty chilis made by local competitors. 2022 California Mid-State Fair Queen Brooke Smith and her court, Sarah Barr and Jenna Shapero, were also in attendance to welcome everyone. 

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California Mid-State Fair Princess Sarah Barr holds the chicken used to play chicken bingo at the VFW Chili Cookoff. Photo by Rick Evans.

“We had a great crowd that came out, packed the house, and we had nine competitors that competed this year,” said VFW Auxiliary 2814 President Sabrina Sakaguchi. “We had probably about 90 or so tasters that came through and tasted chilis and voted for People’s Choice.” 

The nine Cookoff participants competed for first through third place, as well as People’s Choice. First place went to Terry Granstrom, who received $100 and a trophy. Second place went to Ray Morrison, who received $50. Third place went to Michael Lasley, who received $25.


Local chili lovers came and bought tasting wristbands and then had close to an hour and a half to try as many chilis as they wanted. The VFW kept the chili makers anonymous, and tasters were given a small coin to place in a box in front of the chili they liked best. At the end of the Cookoff, votes were tallied, and People’s Choice went again to Terry Granstrom, who added another trophy and more money to his winnings. 

This year, the Cookoff benefited Meals That Connect, operating out of the Atascadero Senior Center. The nonprofit provides hot noontime meals to seniors countywide.

“It looks like we’re going to be able to donate about $700 to them,” stated Sakaguchi. “Which based off of the numbers that they have on their website, I believe that’s eight months’ worth of meals for our senior citizens in our North County area. We are going to designate it to the Atascadero Senior Center location specifically.”

The Cookoff also hosted a raffle with 20 different items donated by these 20 local companies and individuals: Atascadero Chamber, Bianchi Winery, California Mid-State Fair, Crushed Grape, Edge Works Sharpening, Grocery Outlet-Atascadero, Halter Ranch, J Connor Books, Kathy Strang, Kula Vineyards, Leonore Woolpert, MEA Wine, Miners Ace Hardware-Atascadero, Nancy Rangel, Opolo Vineyard, Ruby Cellars, Sandy Edmunson, Ward Roney, and Whalebone Winery. The raffle was 100 percent profit for the VFW and helped raise the money for the Meals That Connect donation. 

“We had several wineries and local companies that gave very willingly and very quickly to support our efforts this year. It was super helpful and greatly appreciated,” added Sakaguchi.

Veterans Service Office of San Luis Obispo County, Vet Center, Central Coast Veterans Museum, and Atascadero Senior Center were all on-site at the event to provide information on their services to the community as well.

“They had a great day, too, connecting with some of their audience,” continued Sakaguchi.

All volunteers, contestants, and judges were given this year’s VFW 2814 Atascadero Chili Cookoff shirt. Sakaguchi added that there are extra shirts left over that will be for sale in the VFW Canteen when open to the public.

For more information about VFW 2814 and all their upcoming events, go to

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Nine competitors put their chilis up for judgment at the VFW Chili Cookoff. Photo by Rick Evans.