The Second Annual Chili Cook-Off & Waterfowl Tour, originally scheduled in January but postponed due to the U.S. Government shutdown, has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, 14000 W. State Route 2, Oak Harbor.
The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, January 26, but had to be postponed when the refuge, which operates with federal funding, was closed due to the U.S. Government shutdown, said Executive Director Aimee Arent of the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
“We’re asking people to bring a crockpot of their favorite chili and compete for either the Judge’s Choice (Golden Ladle Award), the 4-Alarm (The Hottest Chili), or the People’s Choice Award. We had over a dozen contestants participated in our first year in 2018,” said Dr. Jenni Biegala, president of the Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. Biegala says that weather-permitting, those attending can hop on the Blue Goose Bus for a chance to see flocks of Tundra Swans wintering at the refuge. Tours will be held every hour beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing until 3:30 p.m.
There is no admission charge for the Chili Cook-Off, but donations will be gladly accepted. Donations will go in part to the completion of the West Harbor Landing and Visitor Center Kid’s Fishing Access.
The West Harbor Landing Project, which is already underway, is the development of a satellite property of ONWR which, when completed, will feature improved habitat for wildlife and recreational activities. The West Harbor Landing is comprised of 16 acres of predominantly marshland purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is located on Catawba Island about four miles east of Port Clinton. The location is ideal to connect traveling tourists with the Lake Erie marshes and the National Wildlife Refuge System. Dubbed “The Lost Bay” by area residents, the site is estimated to have 10,000 daily travelers, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
ONWR plans to improve pollinator habitat and visitor amenities to include a gazebo, fishing platform / observation deck, improved canoe and kayak launch, benches, and signage. The project has already received community support from the Catawba Island Garden Club.
“The Chili Cook-Off will be a fun afternoon and will help us educate people on conservation and restoration work needed at the refuge,” said Dr. Biegala.
For more information on Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, or the Chili Cook-Off event, visit www.friendsofottawanwr.org/chili-cookoff.html. To make a donation or sponsorship inquiries, contact Dr. Biegala at 419-704-0221 or by e-mail: Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Shirley Haar at 419-350-2618.