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Chili cook-off for fire museum, firefighters

UNION – The Northern Illinois Fire Museum and the Marengo Firefighters Association will host a chili cook-off, a fundraiser for both organizations, March 24. 

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Donley’s Wild West Banquet Hall, 8512 S. Union Road in Union.

Admission is $5 per person; children younger than 6 are admitted free. Chili samples are included in the admission price. Bowls of chili may be bought for $2 per bowl and serving.

The competition is open to anyone. Fire departments from all over Illinois, north of Interstate 80 and southern Wisconsin are being invited to compete.

At 1 p.m., Keith Van Horne from the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears will appear for photos and autographs.

From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., The Sinful Saints Dixieland Band will entertain the crowd. 

Antique fire equipment will be on display. Raffles, prizes and surprises will occur during the day.

Trophies will be awarded for first, second and third place. The first-place winner also receives the traveling trophy and gets “bragging rights” until the next NIFM chili cook-off.

NIFM is dedicated to the preservation and education of the fire service. The funds raised for the museum are being used to secure a permanent home that will open to the public year-round and educate children and adults on the importance of fire safety. The museum currently is in a leased building on Route 23, four miles south of downtown Marengo. Tours are by appointment. Call 815-568-8950 and leave a message.

The Marengo Fire Association uses the proceeds for equipment, dress uniforms and community programs, including scholarships for local students.

Contact or 847-561-3237. The website is

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