Gear up your appetite; fire up the taste buds.

Once again, a creative band of chili chefs has stepped up to satisfy appetites and raise money for the Hubbard County Food Shelf.

An estimated 18 pots of chili will be burbling when samplers arrive for the fourth annual Chili Challenge, hosted by the Park Rapids Enterprise.

The epicurean event, seasoned with humor and music, will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 6 at the Park Rapids American Legion.

All are welcome to sample the chili; a dollar buys a dollop (small cupful).

Like the Dorset democracy, a buck buys a "vote."

The chili chef/s earning top votes (money-wise) will gain celebrity status and a "People Choice" plaque. Melodie Lincowski claimed this last year with her "Third Planet from the Sun" chili. She's returning with a pot of "Out of the World Award-Winning Chili."

The chef claiming tops in taste bud tantalizing will earn People's Favorite commendations, Bob Berdahl hoping to reclaim the distinction again this year with his wild game chili.

Several new contestants will be spooning for votes.

Ballot box stuffing and early voting is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Last year's challenge raised over $8,000 for the food shelf, including the raffles for Bob Landrigan's loon, crafted from rare butternut and walnut, and the Crazy Quilters' exquisite handiwork.

Both have donated their works this year, with raffle tickets available at the Chili Challenge.

New this year: Chili chef Byron Knapp's hand-carved Lady Slippers will be up for bids in a silent auction, as will Ruth Smith's handmade chili pepper windsock.

Fran Gack will return to share her musical talents.

And the Enterprise chocolatiers will arrive with decadent desserts to top off the tasting.

The public is welcome. All funds raised will be contributed to the Hubbard County Food Shelf.