The ladies of CSUB's Gamma Phi Beta are working hard to change the bad rap sororities sometimes get with the first of several charitable events this year: Chilin' with the Gammies Chili Cook-Off on Saturday.
"Our motto is 'building strong girls,'" said the group's philanthropy chairwoman Madison McKay, a Cal State Bakersfield sophomore who is studying communications.
"So at all of our events, that's what we try to do. Every sorority has a different focus, but we focus specifically on younger girls between the ages of 8 and 12. We want them to remember how beautiful and strong they are, and we really stress that girls can become anyone they want and do whatever they put their minds to."
All of the proceeds generated from the cookoff will be donated to the sorority's primary not-for-profit organizations: Girls on the Run and Camp Fire. Both focus on providing girls with confidence and leadership-building activities, such as training for a 5K run, or generating funds to send underprivileged youth to camp.
In an attempt to involve more of the off-campus community, this year's event will be the first to incorporate a cookoff element (last year's event was simply a chili "feed.") It's also why girls opted once again to hold the event at Curran Middle School.
"We're really trying to reach out to different organizations other than Greeks," McKay said. "Really, it's an effort to get more people involved so we can raise more money for our charities, which is always our ultimate goal."
Teams of up to four members (so far 10 are registered) will compete to create the most palate-pleasing chili concoction in one of two categories: with meat, or without. Acting as the judges will be members of the CSUB baseball team, who will score each 2-gallon batch of chili in a variety of categories, including appearance, smell, texture and overall taste.
While the deadline to compete has already passed, for a small admission fee spectators can chow down on the competitors' creations. And, in addition to the formal first-, second- and third-place winners, guests will have the opportunity to vote for their "people's choice" winner, whose lucky cooks will take home a $100 cash prize.
If the all-you-can-eat chili isn't quite enough to fill you up, the Gammies (plural for the Gamma Phi Beta girls) will also be serving some of this cookoff classic's favorite companions: fresh cornbread and Marie Callender's pie.
Hoping to keep the event as family-friendly as possible, the girls recruited the mascot from the Bakersfield Condors to come out and make an appearance, and will also set up a prop-filled photo booth. For the money-wielding adults in attendance, there will be a raffle for 10 uniquely themed gift baskets. Tickets will be sold for $1 each, or in sets of 10 for $5.
"I think anyone who comes out will have a great time," said McKay. "Our event is geared toward helping organizations who really need it, and I think the environment that we provide is good for anybody -- whether you're hanging out with your family and friends, or if you want to just want to come out, eat some chili, and meet some new people."