Over 400 people attended the 47th annual Troop 4 chili feed March 8 at the First Christian Church.
The yearly fundraiser was first held in 1972, preceding the last home football game, and is now considered to have been the beginning of a legend. Five years ago, the troop leaders realized that all the athletic booster clubs had discovered the success of suppers just before the ball games and took up all the autumn Fridays. Troop 4 just moved its chili/stew supper to the spring, and now it is held the first Friday evening in March. It had to be postponed till the second Friday this year because of a scheduling conflict but will likely return to the first Friday next year.
A $7 ticket buys soup, cornbread, corn chips and crackers, relishes, a beverage and dessert. The price remained the same for 10 years, but inflation caught up and it had to be raised $1 this year. The McFarlanes are adamant about not asking businesses for donations of food and supplies for the event; the Scouts and their parents sell tickets, and many patrons buy at the door.
Of the 400 people served March 8, about 50 customers took advantage of the take-out service. The troop has an incentive plan which fosters ticket sales. Also, the “Century Club” is an elite group of Scouts who sell at least 100 tickets each.. Every member of the Century Club receives a recognition plaque.
Scoutmaster McFarlane and his wife, Suzanne, expressed appreciation to all the Scouts, parents, assistant leaders and other volunteers for their role in making this year’s event a total success.
The original recipes for the chili and stew were donated by Paul Lupinski, an employee of the East Central State College Food Service. Paul’s son, Rudy, was a member of Troop 4 and was a natural source of good recipes for many of the Scouts’ camping menus. From time to time, people offered advice about ingredients to enhance the flavor of the dishes; the suggestions always were tried and most of the time, the cooks returned to the original plan.
For several years, all the food was cooked on the day of the feed in the kitchen of the First Christian Church. But as the event became well known and attendance doubled, two of the mothers offered to prepare the “chili base” ahead of time and freeze it, making final preparation much easier on the big day. Today, 225 pounds of fresh meat is browned, seasoned and frozen the Sunday before the scheduled event.
On Thursday, Troop 4 families gather at the church for the moms to chop vegetables for the stew and Scouts and dads to set up the dining area. Early Friday morning, meat is thawed and simmered in Army surplus pots for six hours while the stew is “concocted,” cornbread baked, pies cut and relish plates assembled in preparation for evening guests. The McFarlanes eagerly anticipate greeting old friends and former Scouts and welcoming newcomers to this different version of a gala.
Troop 4 has been sponsored continuously by the First Christian Church since 1922. Actually, the First Christian Church in Ada has sponsored a Boy Scout troop for 102 years; originally it was Troop 4, then the troops from the First Methodist Church and First Christian Church merged and the name was changed to Troop 4.
Angus McFarlane has been Scoutmaster for 52 years. He promises each new Scout the opportunity to realize two goals: to become an Eagle Scout and to go on at least one high-adventure trip during his tenure with Troop 4. So far, over 200 young men have taken him at his word and earned the coveted Eagle rank.
Angus is very quick to attribute the success of Troop 4 to the help of a large contingent of assistant leaders, the support of the boys’ parents and the exemplary character he finds in his Scouts.