Wings, chili draw competitors to downtown Florence

By: Rebecca Cross, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Smoky smells wafted through downtown Florence on Friday evening as cooking teams participated in the fourth annual Kickin’ Chicken Wings and Chili Festival.

The festival is held by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

Mike Miller, Greater Florence Chamber president, said the festival is a fun, different downtown event. The festival brings in local businesses to compete in a cook-off, and many businesses are not in the food industry.

This year, there were 12 wing competitors and 12 chili competitors.

Duke Energy won first place in the chili competition, and The Carolinian won second place.

Carolina Fresh Foods won first place in the wing competition. Performance Food Service won second place, and Otis Elevator won third place.

Keith Tokar, an engineer at Otis Elevator, said his cooking team bonds during the preparation process. Leading up to the event, they spend a few weekends together experimenting with different recipes.

Cordy Williamson, a member of the Duke Energy team, said his team loves to cook for the company and for the competition. Williamson said the team’s chili simmered all day Friday, but the pleasure of seeing others enjoy their food was worth the work.

“I like the expressions on peoples’ faces when they taste it,” Williamson said.

However, more than good food, Tokar and Williamson said, their teams enjoy getting involved in the community and supporting the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce.

There were 15 judges for the wing competition and six judges for the chili competition. The names of the winners were announced toward the end of the evening.

Speakeasy also performed at the festival on an outdoor stage. People mingled, danced and listened to live music.