Chicken cook-off raises funds

MILLERTON — What’s a good way to tell that this area can cook up some tasty chicken? Well, for starters last Sunday’s chicken cook-off fundraiser had the top four teams finishing within five points of each other. And as has been a tradition for the cook-off, there was a brand new winner this year, with Johnny Vassello and John and Bob Millius grilling their way to a first-place finish.

Unlike previous winners and competitors, Vassello, who said he has a whole head full of recipes, wasn’t shy about sharing the secret for his success.

“The base was Italian dressing, and I added some liquid smoke, lemon pepper seasoning, a little fresh oregano and honey. Then I just let it ferment.�

Vassello said he was ecstatic about the victory. He’s competed before, using a red sauce that got him a good ribbing from the other competitors.

“They called me Mr. Ragu for a little while,� he said.

Team Johnny V finished with 154 points, only one ahead of Amenia Fire Company No. 2, which came in second with 153 points. Third place went to the Rounders Hunting Club with 151 points. The event, which raises money for the Sunday in the Country Food Drive, has run for the last seven years. This year approximately $2,500 was raised, and all but five of the 250 dinners were sold.

“The public really came through for us with walk-ins,â€� said the fundraiser’s founder, “NASCARâ€� Dave MacMillan.   MacMillan broadcast his WHDD Sunday morning radio show live from the event on Nov. 1.

The fundraiser brings the Sunday in the Country team one step closer to providing enough dinners for families in need during Thanksgiving and Christmas. MacMillan acknowledged that funding is still short of what is needed, but that the community is starting to chip in.

“People are starting to pay attention,� he said. “I’ve been invited to talk to some business groups, so hopefully we’ll get some support there.� MacMillan said he interviewed political candidates Sunday morning during his show, and that all the communities are supporting the Sunday in the Country effort.

“It was an uplifting day for our committee,� MacMillan said. “Sometimes you get a little disappointed as far as the numbers in the bank. But when you can do a good thing like [the cook-off], it gets you pumped up a little bit.�

MacMillan thanked the 10 teams for participating and American Legion Post 178 for always hosting the event at the Legion Hall. The Hillsdale Market and the Ancram Fire Department each donated 100 halves of chicken, and both the Amenia Fire Department teams and the Rounders brought their own chicken, which meant more profit for the cause. Finally, the ladies auxiliary held a pie sale, raising more than $400 for the food drive.

Annual dinner dance


Nov. 13, the date for the food drive’s annual dinner dance, is fast approaching. It will be held for the first time at the Immaculate Conception Church in Amenia, and 300 tickets will be sold at $20 each. Running from 6 to 11 p.m., the event will include an hour of free beer and wine and a full buffet dinner, donated by Silo Ridge, that will include turkey, roast beef and a pasta bar.

Tickets for the event are available at the North East Athletic Center, American Legion Post 178 and Jack’s Auto. A live music set will be provided by the Schvone Sisters, and DJ Joey D will provide music for the remainder of the evening.

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