November 30, 2021

Eating up good times

Annual Chill-A-Bration draws hundreds to Cortland

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Norm Stitzel, right, of the Cortland VFW hands Tyler Signor the viking helmet after winning the Polar Pie Eating contest at Chill-A-Bration on Saturday. It was his second year winning.

Tylor Signor raised his arms in victory while chewing his last bit of pancake as Cortland Veterans of Foreign War member Norm Stitzel counted down — five, four, three, two, one.

“Last year I saw the helmet and I wanted it, but this year was about defending my title,” Signor said.

Signor was one of four people who competed Saturday in the VFW’s Polar Pie Eating contest.

The contest was one of the events during Chill-A-Bration — an annual event that brings hundreds of people out of their houses and the winter blues and downtown for 20 or more variations of chili, drinks and other activities.

Signor, who works at Woodman’s Pub, 103 Main St., was named the champion of the frozen pancake-eating contest for the second year in a row. He ate almost three more pancakes than everyone else. He ate seven pancakes this year, compared to the 16 he devoured last year.

This year Signor came with a strategy.

“Last year, everyone would fold them and dunk them in their water and so, this year I soaked mine,” he said.

However, what made the contest fun for Signor this year was having his sister Kayla Signor participate. Pancakes aren’t her thing, but she said she decided to do it because her brother wanted her to.

“We’re really competitive,” Kayla Signor said. She was able to get down 4 1/2 pancakes.

And Signor said he plans to participate as long as the contest goes on.

“If I lose, I’ll come back again the next year,” he said.

The winners

Cortland area’s favorite chili:
1. Spiedini’s Pizza Parlor — Spiedie Chili
2. New York Bagel — Clint’s Bagel Chip Chili
3. Community Restaurant — Chili Cheese Hot Dog Egg Roll
4. The Deli Downtown — Alice’s White Chicken Chili
5. Cornell Cooperative Extension — Camp Owahta Vegetarian Chili

Favorite Winter Flavor Top 5:
1. Bru 64 — Bru Coco
2. Sinfully Sweet — Dessert Delights
3. Brix Pubaria — Maple Bourbon Smash
4. Finger Lakes Tasting and Tap Room — Mulled Wine
5. Cortland Beer Co. — Red Dragon Ale

SOURCE: Cortland Downtown Partnership

It was also a friendly competition for siblings Kelly Travis and Caitlin Friedberg.

“I signed up on a whim to say that I did it,” Friedberg said. “I like waffles more, though.”

Travis said she signed up because she knew her sister was participating and the two plan on doing it again next year. Travis ate 4 1/2 pancakes, while Friedberg ate two.

At The Finger Lakes Tasting and Tap Room, at 31 Main St., three people put their voices to the test as they bellowed out an elk call.

Lee Joyner said she had been practicing before the contest. “I want to go elk hunting, so I’ve been practicing for a year,” she said.

Taylor Cookston grew up elk hunting in Oregon — it’s where he learned the sound. Both agreed they’d be back as competitors next year.

The elk call was one of the reasons Darlene Clauson had come down to Chill-A-Bration. The other was to see the pancake- eating contest.

“As soon as I heard about it I said, ‘This is something I could do,’” she said. “I do not want to eat pancakes but I’ll screech like an Elk.”

Her practice paid off; she won.