LACONIA — With a record crowd of nearly 300 in attendance, the Looney Bin Bar and Grille at Weirs Beach successfully defended its title at the 4th annual Chili Cook-off to benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society which was held Sunday at the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound.
Not only did the Looney Bin win its second straight nod from the judges with its spicy beef chili, it also took the People's Choice award, which thrilled owner Michelle Tyo, who said that the recipe is a less spicy version of that which her mother used to make.
''We've been serving it at the restaurant since day one,'' said Tyo.
The Route 104 Diner was second and T-Bones was third.
The event attracted people from all over the Lakes Region and some people came from as far away as Rochester to sample the offerings from the competing restaurants for the event.
"'We came up to show our support for the Humane Society,'' said Eric Sirles, who grew up in Laconia and brought along his three daughters, Olivia, Alexandra and Maikayla, to sample the extensive offerings from area restaurants.
Steve Kay and John Finneral of Cactus Jack's and T-Bones were serving up Texas Chili from T-Bones and said they were receiving a good response from the public. ''It's our first year and we're proud to be helping out the Humane Society,'' said Kay. T-Bones was selected as the Best Booth winner.
Annie Verville of Annie's Cafe brought along two different chilis, one with pulled pork, green peppers with roasted butternut squash and corn and a vegetarian offering with three beans, chilies and bulgur.
Others taking part included the Ballard House Inn, Burrito Me, Hart's Turkey Farm, the Lakeside Deli, Tower Hill Tavern, the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound, the Water Street Cafe and the Wine'ing Butcher.
The official judging panel was made up of Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson, Police Chief Chris Adams and the city's new mayor, Ed Engler.
Live entertainment provided by Paul Warnick and saxophonist Jonathan Lorentz was new at the event this year according Marylee Gorham, spokesperson for the Humane Society, who said that she was thrilled with the turnout and looking forward to an even bigger crowd next year.
She said the event raised $2,800 for the Humane Society.
"We are so grateful to the Lobster Pound, the many restaurants who have stepped up to the challenge this year, and the judges who agreed to lend their support. Knowing we have so many friends in the community inspires our staff, volunteers and supporters to do the very best they can every day, enriching the lives of the animals we are pledged to care for until adoption,'' said Gorham.