Chili Cookoff and Anniversary of East Side Irish-American Club

Chili Cookoff

On Saturday, Januray 26th, we went to the United Methodist Church in downtown Painesville to take in the 15th Annual Chili Cook-off. As you might expect, it always generates a warm, homely environment in which friends and neighbors display their products and compete for prizes. Competition is good-natured, though.

Accordingly as printed on the ballot we were given, the criteria for judging the chili were:

  • Aroma: Chili should smell appetizing
  • Color: Chili should look appetizing
  • Consistency: Should be a smooth combination of meat and gravy or beans and gravy
  • Taste: Chili should taste good
  • Aftertaste: Chili should leave a pleasant taste after eating

Many of the competitors had personalized names, such as Black Sheep Chili, Smoked Chipotle Brisket Chili, Cice’s Creative Chili, and Los Loco Habaneros Maddog Chili. We ourselves especially liked “I Can’t Believe it’s Vegan” chili prepared by Painesville City Councilperson Christine Shoop.

Among those in attendance was our friend, Ms. Deb Remington, Director of Alumni Relations, from Lake Erie College and, of course, Pastor Jan Yandell of this very church who we see quite frequently at community events. Before we left, we thanked Ms. Michelle LaPuma, Painesville’s Director of Public Lands and Recreation, for doing such a good job coordinating the event which was expected to be attended by some 350 people in its two hour duration. We couldn’t stay to find out which chili won out because they all looked and tasted so good that it didn’t really matter. 

Irish American Celebration

Instead, we headed over to the 41st Anniversary of the East Side Irish American Club (IACES) on Lakeshore Blvd. in Euclid which was amazingly well-attended by several generations of families who have played a definitive role in the club’s development since it was founded in 1978.

Appetizers were plentiful and the music provided by Mary’s Lane, an Irish-American rock band based in Cleveland, was so lively that we exhausted ourselves dancing to it.

Between our hoofing, we congratulated our friend, Ms. Mary Campbell-Stack for being named IACES Member of the Year and learned from Ms. Helen Malloy that last week’s Visitation Home Reunion Dance which raised funds for the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Eucharist was a big success which cheered us because we wanted to attend but were put off by the questionable weather.

Later in the evening, a short program took place in which current IACES president, Ms. Mary Alice Curran introduced those now serving on its Board of Directors. Past presidents of IACES were also recognized including those who have sadly passed. Among the past presidents who were present was Mr. Bill Homan who will be the Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for 2019.

In the course of the program, we were addressed by Mr. Gerry Quinn, a founding member and the first president of the IACES as well as person who immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Recalling his heritage, and that of many others, Mr. Quinn said: 

“Immigration problems monopolize the news daily. It should be a concern to all of us. When I came to America in 1961 I was just one of thousands of Irish immigrants arriving each year. All that changed in 1965 when the Irish lost preferred status. Today, the numbers from Ireland are fewer, hence clubs like this have a much more difficult job restoring its membership. I will say the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations have been successful so far at preserving the heritage but as the years go by, I think the obvious challenges that lay ahead will be greater. It is also important to note that many of the immigration problems of today and yesterday were ignored by politicians, many of whom are still in office. When I think back at the simplicity and fairness of the system I experienced, I wonder if they really want to fix it. When I arrived, there was no internet, computers or iphones. I wrote a letter to my aunt and uncle asking them to sign for me. A couple of weeks later they replied. I took the letter to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin with vaccination certs and a police record. Within 2 months I was issued an alien registration card and was on my way. Each year for five years I had to register my address at the US post office. Simple and efficient process-why can’t it work today?”

Regarding the success of IACES, Mr. Quinn noted that it was remarkable that the club had lasted 41 years; indeed most such organization only last about 20 years. Therefore, Mr. Quinn proclaimed that “we are and always will be a beacon of light that shines brightly on on the American cultural landscape. So let us resolve here tonight to continue the incredible adventure begun in 1978!”