Oklahoma octogerarian tops field at Saturday's 32nd annual Gulf Coast Regional on St. George Island

Like father, like son.

Well actually, like father, like father.

Bob Alexander Sr. who has brewed his spicy Baja Red chili alongside his son’s Harriers Forever blend for many years at the annual Gulf Coast Regional chili cook-off on St. George Island, stepped to the center of the winners circle Saturday at the 36th annual event.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma octogenarian, who along with his son, have been coming on and off since the start of the competition in 1982, proved worthy of his reputation as what competition organizer Grayson Shepard called “a circuit cook.

“They take their chili very seriously,” he said, noting that the dad’s appearance coincides with a trip to see his son and family in Niceville.

“It’s what he loves to do so they travel around to different cook-offs,” said Shepard, who quietly annoucned that this would be his last year heading up the competition.

The senior Alexander pocketed a check for $500, and a berth in the International Chili Society’s world championship, Sept. 28-30 at Gateway Motorsports Park, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Finishing just out of the top spot, among the 43 competing teams, winning $300 for second place, were Tracy Connors’ Red Hot Chili Preppers out of Panama City. In third place, with a $200 prize, were Dorothy’s Revenge, led by. Julie Brown from Wichita, Kansas.

In fourth place was John Solomon’s Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce team, quite an accomplishment for the veteran foodie competitor, since he’s allergic to tomatoes and can’t taste his own brew. In fifth place was Mike Frimet’s Rasta Chili, from Panama City.

In the salsa competition, which drew a record 17 entries, winning the top prize of $100 and a berth in the world championships, was J.G. Carver’s Spice Boys #1 team. Rasta Chili finished second and Dorothy’s Revenge third.

The Tallahassee-Forgotten Coast Parrot Head Club team was the runaway winner for High Yield, for the most money raised, as they collected more than $2,000 for the cause, the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department.

The Parrotheads also won for Best Booth, with the Spice Boys taking home second, and Team Toilet Bowl, a perennial favorite, taking third.

The Showmanship award went to Big Shots out of Macon, Georgia, with Team Toilet Bowl flushing their way to runner-up honors and the Red Hot Chili Preppers taking a third place.

In the amateur Crock Pot competition, where entrants can use beans or any other ingredients, Leslie Short, from Smyrna, Georgia was judged best for consistency, taste, aroma and bite, among the 18 entrants.

Finishing in second was Maxie Thaisen, from St. George Island, and in third Michael Miller, from Woodstock, Georgia. Money raised from that crock pot competition, which featured a concession where people tried to throw a ping pong ball into a bra cup, goes to Franklin Needs, which advocates for breast cancer screenings for area women.

Ticia Lipscomb, the cook-off’s treasurer, said preliminary numbers show that about 3,000 people paid to enter the ground on Saturday, better than last year, but short of a record high. She estimated that Saturday’s auction gleaned about $20,000.

Among the competitors was a large contingent of teams from Americus, Georgia and surrounding areas, led by Marty McDonald from Chili Chili Bang Bang, whose “triple play” chili featured bacon, ground chuck and sausage. He joined in the festivities with Gary Carlson, whose Uncle Bugs’ team out of Connecticut, has been coming for seven years, as well as his brother Andrew Carlson, from the Catahoula team, also out of Americus. Plus there was John Dean’s Steer Crazy and Joe Minor’s Team Lucky, and Cole West’s Great Bowels of Fire, all from Americus.

A member of the Great Bowels of Fire Team, Stacy Huckaby, took third place in the Miss Chili Pepper contest. “I kept my clothes on, I kept it classy,” she said.

Eastpoint’s Michelle Hicks, who said he had the most clothes on than any of the other ladies, took the Miss Chili Pepper prize. “She said ‘I ought to win because I’m 50 years old!’ said Huckaby, and the judges rewarded her with the top prize.

No record was available as to who won the Mr. Hot Sauce contest, which is probably best for everyone involved.