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Stratford Firefighters' Chili Wins at Weekend Festival

Firefighters and police officers cook up award-winning chili while supporting Special Olympics.

Success is a dish best served patiently.

The 's chili was smoked for a minimum 10 hours before it won first place in the People's Choice category at the 6th annual Milford Yacht Club Police and Firefighter Chili Festival on Saturday.

The chili had about 17 pounds of brisket in it, said Stratford firefighters Mike Camperlengo, Matt Whelan, Matt Morse and Brian Johnson (pictured).

Milford firefighters edged Stratford and took first place in the Judge's Choice category. Several area fire departments participated in the annual event that raises money for Special Olympics of Connecticut.

Paul Kovlakas has been volunteering at the festival for the last four years. His wife, Lisa, is on the Special Olympics of Connecticut's board. They were there with their children.

"We try to make it a family event," Kovlakas said while trying some chili from the West Haven Police Department.

donated the venue, staffing, soft drinks and the main ingredients for the chili recipes for all participating teams, for a sixth consecutive year. The was among this year's sponsors and many people donated their time to help out. In addition to the $10 it cost to taste the chili, funds were raised through the sale of raffle tickets.

The celebrity judge this year was John Ratzenberger, a Bridgeport native who most will remember as Cliff Clavin, the mailman on the sitcom Cheers. He was joined on the judge's panel by area chefs and Special Olympics athletes.

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