Here’s what happened…

Let me just say upfront; my uncle Cranston James Shipiloo was a hell of a guy, but his son, my cousin Skeeter, really sucked.

Now Uncle Cranston was known for a lot of things but was best known for winning the Talladega county chili cook off for 8 years running. Nobody could top his gut burning, volcano hot dog chili.

Every year Cranston would prepare his scorching concoction weeks in advance just to make sure it was just right.

In 2008 things changed. A new guy moved to town from Juarez Mexico and was known as Juan Valdez, the Chili Conquistador.

From April to June there was a black cloud hanging over my uncle’s house. The rumors in town were that the Conquistador’s chili was El Major, The best.

As the day drew nearer to the July 4th County fair, Cranston grew desperate. What could he do? His reign as champion was slowly slipping away.

The day of the contest arrived. Juan Valdez, being the challenger, presented his chili first to the 10 judges. The smiles on the face of the culinary tribunal said it all. It was over for my uncle.

Using quick thinking, Cranston faked a groin injury and asked for a 15 minute recess from the competition. He fake limped to his truck.

There was only one thing left to do. The reigning champ decided to go all out. He dumped the remaining blistering, flaming, piping hot concoction into his pot. He had never even tested this amount of heat in his chili, but his title was on the line.

He walked back to the judging table with his back straight and his pride intact and handed the pot to the officials.

July 4th in Talladega was always a day to remember in the state of Alabama but in 2008 it became infamous.

Four judges collapsed with painful bowel obstruction. Two with the exact opposite situation but just as painful and the remaining four left in a very big hurry.

But the real issue was my cousin Skeeter. The kid was definitely a few pins short of a 7-10 split.

Skeeter wanted to find out if the lighting flatulence thing was real, so he lit a sparkler right behind the judges stand.

Now, I’m not saying the county fair planning committee was negligent but putting the Fireworks launching pad behind the chili stand, in hindsight might have been a bad idea.

To cover up the explosion and damage to the viewing stands and the death of the first place prize hog, the county blamed the whole thing on global warming.

Yes, by the way, Uncle Cranston kept his title.


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