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KINGSLAND — Carrie Kinnison remembers when she and her husband, Larry “Doc” Kinnison, started going to chili cook-offs and how they struggled to place.

“One of our friends came up to us and gave us a recipe and mentored us,” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t want you all to go and do what (my wife) and I did. We cooked for five years before we got our first point.’”

That’s a long time to cook without placing at an event.

“I think I would’ve quit before then,” Kinnison said, laughing.

That experience is why Kinnison welcomes anyone to enter the chili cook-off Jan. 1-3 at the American Legion Post 437, located at 118 Legion Loop in Kingsland.

“We’ll be happy to mentor them if they’ve never cooked,” said Kinnison, the “Great Pepper” or president of the Highland Lakes Chili Pod.

The Jackpot Black-Eyed Pea contest is Jan. 1 with a $10 entry fee. Turn-in is noon. The chili cook-off turn-in time is 2 p.m. Jan. 1.

The Cast Off Chili Cook-Off is Jan. 2. Turn-in is 5 p.m.

“After awhile, we have so many trophies, we don’t know what to do with,” Kinnison said. “Instead of buying trophies, my friends, when they have stuff to get rid of, they give to me, and I have a huge box full of past trophies.”

Kinnison picks through the ones she deems worthy of presenting as trophies.

“And that’s what we give for our trophies at the Cast-Off Chili Cook-Off.,” she said.

To wrap things up Jan. 3, participants can take part in a silent auction and the Just Because Chili Cook-Off. The turn-in time that day is 2 p.m.

Judges are needed for all contests, and anyone is welcome. Judges are asked to register 30 minutes before turn-in times.

The entry fee is $20 per chili contest or $50 for all three days. The cook-offs raise money for the pod’s main charity: the American Legion Post 437.

Kinnison said last year’s cook-off attracted about 100 cooks combined, and she expects the same this year.

For more information, call Kinnison at (281) 615-2408 or email her at