This weekend is a big one for the Ford Wyoming Center. On Sunday, the event center will showcase the Broadway Musical, Legally Blonde. But on Saturday, the Ford Wyoming Center played host to the 30th Annual API Chili Cookoff.

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For three decades, the Central Wyoming Chapter of the American Petroleum Institute has provided sustenance to the masses, while raising money for various local charities throughout Natrona County.

When asked what makes the API Chili Cookoff so successful year after year, board member Dustin Estes had one word: Community.

"Casper, for lack of better term, shows up and shows out each and every year," Estes said. "This is one of our two events that we do each year and it's the community that makes it successful."

It's not just the community, however. It's also each and every one of the businesses that sign up for the event.

This year's theme was 'TV's Greatest Hits, and all of the expected suspects were there.

There was Cheers, there was The Simpsons, Home Improvement, Breaking Bad, Gilligan's Island, and so many more. Participants went all out with their booths and their costumes...and their chilies.

In all, more than 40 businesses gathered for the API Chili Cookoff, as well as the Calcutta event the night previous. Together, they raised more than $100,000 for local charities and scholarships.

"We raised $170,000 last night," Estes stated. "My favorite part of this event is watching everybody work so hard. They've been at it for a day-and-a-half by this point. The event today is only a few hours, but they put so many more hours of work into it, and it's incredible to see."

Another API Board Member, LeeAnn Portz, said that she thinks the event is such a hit year after year because the community genuinely cares about the the organizations for which the event is raising money.

"The money that we raised here today goes back to several local charities and nonprofits," Portz stated. "And that's what it's about. The money we raised at our Calcutta last night goes to these organizations, like Meals on Wheels, the Jason's Friends Foundation, the Children's Advocacy Project, and more."

Money also goes towards the Olivia Caldwell Foundation, Special Olympics Wyoming, the Wyoming Rescue Mission, and the Brain Injury Alliance.

Money raised also goes towards the API's Scholarship Fund, which allows Wyoming high school students the means to attend college.

"Every booth gets auctioned off and we divide the funds up between these organizations," Portz said.

Booths sold for various prices but, altogether, more than $170,000 was raised.

Some of that money went to the winners of the chili cookoff, however.

Altogether, there were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, as well as winners of the People's Choice award. Each winner received an amount of money, as did winners of a raffle. One lucky raffle ticket holder won $10,000.

Homeax Oil won the People's Choice award for their chili (in addition to winning 3rd place in the green chili category).

Hilltop National Bank won 1st place for Red Chili and Freedom Fuels won 1st place for Green Chili.

The winners can be seen in the video below:

Saturday was truly a day to remember. It was a day for food, a day for fun, a day for fellowship. But it also served as yet another reminder of how incredible the community can be when it comes to taking care of its own.

Photos from the 30th Annual API Chili Cookoff can be seen below:

30th Annual API Chili Cookoff Raises More Than $170,000 for Local Charities

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