BONNERS FERRY — The City Fire Department heated up on Nov. 2, with mild to raging hot chili, brought in for the annual Chili Feed Competition to benefit the Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard.
The event featured the chili cook off, raffles and demonstrations. The chili was voted on by those who attended the event. Deanea Merrifield took first place with her chili, followed by Susan Jackson in second place, and Alan Hamilton in third.
Two chilis gathered a lot of attention with their spicy nature, which had the crowd watching closely as a few dared to try them — Tom Chaney’s “Hell Chili” and Ken Bateman’s “Pray for Ice Cream Chili.”
“My mouth is on fire and my lips are on fire. I’m sweating and my nose is running,” said Boundary County Fire Rescue Honor Guard Commander, Len Pine, after sampling the spicy chilis. “It is not stopping — it just keeps going.”
Every half an hour, they had drawing for items that had been donated to the cause, including a framed firefighter print.
“Rich Beck is the man that has my heart — he is the one that gave the print,” said Ken Baker from the honor guard. “Respect to those guys because he is a Vietnam vet. It doesn’t stay just within emergency services, it is all people.”
A flag folding demonstration was performed by Pine and Baker, with Wally Nyberg, also a member of the honor guard, explained the process, including the symbolism of each fold. He also explained the importance of the completed flag.
“If it doesn’t hit right, you are going to end up seeing red,” said Pine. “You don’t want to see red.”
The folding of the flag is an important tradition when honoring the fallen.
“So these are some of the skills that we are learning,” said Nyberg. “Some of the things that the money goes toward is buying the flags, so that we can go ahead and practice.”
They also had a demonstration of the bell, a set of five tones, rung three times, performed by honor guard member, Alan Hamilton. Pine spoke about the importance of the bells. The large demonstration bell used is off of a 1940s fire engine and is not practical for the honor guard to take with them when performing ceremonies.
“It is really, really heavy and it belongs to the City of Bonners Ferry, so we are trying to not haul it all over the place,” said Pine. “We want to make sure that it does not get damaged. So we are looking to purchase our own ceremonial bell that won’t be this big.”
They hope to purchase a bell that is about eight inches or a little larger. Pine explained that the cost for a tuned brass bell of that size is approximately $900.
In addition to the flags and bell, the funds raised during the chili feed also go toward a different set of uniforms, which will be considerable less expensive. They have been receiving requests for simple color guard duties.
The difference between the two is that the colors, or flags, are carried by both, but the primary purpose of the color guard is to present the National Colors at a presentation or ceremony, while the honor guard may present the colors, their main purpose is to present a contingent to bear honors at ceremonies or funerals.
“We want to maintain the special nature of the honor guard for memorials, so we are looking at establishing a color guard,” said Pine.
Amidst the formality, there was fun and laughter, as people sampled chilis and shared stories for a couple of hours.
“Let me just take this opportunity to thank all of you for coming, and for helping us out with this, getting toward that goal,” Pine told the audience. “It is a real treat to have you here — in spite of the fact that Tom Chaney tried to fry my brains out.”
“It was a good presentation, and good to see the people here, and some of the people who have sponsored us,” said Baker about the event.