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Minto residents, friends attempt to break a Guinness world record

Rhonda Jones, a member of MR Country performs on the main street stage Saturday June 15, 2013 at the Minto, N.D. Chili Feed.JOHN STENNES

MINTO, N.D. -- A trailer dragging an old, 300-gallon milk-holding container pulled onto Minto's Main Street on Saturday afternoon to the sound of cheering and applause. Inside the tank: no less than 2,420 pounds of chili con carne.

"Chris's Dream Team Chili," pioneered in part by Minto resident Chris Misialek, brought an entire community together in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for the largest single serving of chili.

A few weeks ago, the Minto Community Center called an open meeting for anyone interested in contributing to the event. Organizers were happily surprised when almost 90 people showed up.

"You'd have a hard time getting that many people to come to church!" Misialek joked.

Since the idea was hatched, there has been no end to the community's support of the event.

More than 170 volunteers, all clad in yellow "Chili Party" T-shirts, came from all around the country to make the day a success.

According to Misialek, friends and relatives of Minto residents came from as far as Texas, Washington and North Carolina to contribute to the event.

"This is not just a Minto-area attempt," he said. "There are a lot of people from everywhere trying to help."

Tom Schuster of the Koda Bank in Minto was eager to join in on the "community spirit" of the afternoon. Along with the bank's donation to the cause, Schuster also volunteered his own time to help out.

"Minto is a very tight community, very supportive, very proud," he said. "We're very proud to be a business sponsor."

Volunteers manned chili-serving lines, set up tables in the street, and drove tractor-pulled shuttles to parking lots on the edge of town to ensure that nobody had to walk far for their chili.

When the pot arrived at Main Street from the Minto Grain Elevator, where it had been weighed, all the volunteers gathered for a group photo. The sea of yellow shirts celebrated and chanted "Hip-hip, hooray!" in the crowded parking lot.

The sense of community could not have been stronger as the volunteers, many who started preparing the chili at 4 a.m., cheered and joked as they posed for the cameras.

One voice jovially called out from the crowd, "Let's do the wave!"

Those who benefit

One of the beneficiaries of the funds raised at the Minto Chili Feed is the Sunshine Memorial Foundation, an organization founded by Grand Forks native Donovan Larson.

Larson's foundation will use the donated funds to advance its proposed Sunshine Hospitality Home project in Grand Forks.

Though still in the early stages of development, the home would provide cheap lodging for patients and their families who must travel to Grand Forks for medical treatment.

"We've been talking about this for 15 years," Larson said. "The need has been forever. We want to help so that Altru and the Greater Grand Forks area can help patients from all over the region."

When he traveled to Minto to attend the open planning session of the chili feed, Larson was impressed by the "community-oriented" feel of the undertaking.

"That's kinda our direction with this project," he said. "It was heartwarming to go into that room with 80 other people there that night."

Since Grand Forks does not have a children's hospital, it is not eligible for a Ronald McDonald House. According to Larson, similar foundations that serve specific patients -- like those in cancer centers or those undergoing transplant surgeries -- will not likely come to Grand Forks anytime soon either.

"(The Sunshine Hospitality Home) would be for all patients, all ages, all medical conditions and all medical providers," Larson said.

The Walsh County Historical Museum in Minto is another major beneficiary of the event. A co-curator of the facility, Wally Ebertowski, said the museum will benefit greatly from the fundraiser.

"When you're dealing with a building that was built in 1895, it needs constant repair," he said.

The museum hopes to receive a new floor and new lighting thanks to the chili feed.

The team estimates that they have beaten the previous Guinness world record by about 1,000 pounds, but the official results will not come in for several weeks.