North Country Chili Cook-Off to Take Place Throughout the
Month of February at Participating Area Restaurants to Support VTC

January 31, 2021   09:45 a.m.
    Press Release:

    North Country Chili Cook-Off Will Return Next Week in New Format
    Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

    WATERTOWN, NY– The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC) will
    host the 22nd Annual North Country Chili Cook-Off in a new format this year
    due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As first announced in December, the cook-off – typically held as a one-day
    event at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown on the first Saturday
    of February – will instead be held at participating restaurants in Jefferson,
    Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties throughout the month of February. The
    move was made in an effort to host the event in a way that would follow
    New York State mandates and adhere to CDC guidelines.

    “We are excited to host this very different version of the North Country Chili
    Cook-Off,” said Jeremiah S. Papineau, Director of Communications and
    Foundation Director for the VTC. “We’re so used to seeing the cook-off as a
    huge, one-day event but we obviously couldn’t do that this year. So, our
    planning committee put their heads together and came up with something
    we think will be a hit.”

    The North Country Chili Cook-Off — just for this year — will focus only on
    the “Professional” category and be held at participating restaurants
    throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, said Mr. Papineau.
    The event will follow a “pub crawl” format, where those wishing to sample
    and vote on their favorite entries may do so at participating restaurants.

    The following restaurants have signed up to compete during their regular
    hours of operation:

                   • Gram’s Diner, 13 Main Street, Adams

                   • Spook Hill Bar And Grill, 12139 U.S. Route 11, Adams Center

                   • The Dockside Pub, 17 Market Street, Alexandria Bay

                   • Sahara Restaurant, 39936 State Route 3, Carthage

                   • The Church Street Diner, 107 Church Street, Carthage

                   • Whistle Stop Tavern, 33926 State Route 3, Carthage

                   • Zero Dock Street Restaurant & Bar, 130 Canal Street, Carthage

                   • River Bottom Bar & Grill, 419 Riverside Drive, Clayton

                   • Whiskey Jack’s, 5454 Plumber Road, Constableville

                   • The Cottage Inn, 9794 State Route 12, Copenhagen

                   • Josh’s Riverside Restaurant, 681 State Route 812, Croghan

                   • Meme’s Diner, 31606 State Route 3, Felts Mills

                   • L.E.A.’S Diner, 90 State Street, Heuvelton

                   • Montague Inn, 6765 Sears Pond Road, Lowville

                   • Tony Harper’s Pizza & Clam Shack, 7617 North State Street  

                   • Boondocks Restaurant & Bar, 3950 State Route 12, Lyons Falls

                   • River Valley Inn, 6670 Burdicks Crossing Road, Lyons Falls

                   • Nu Pier Restaurant, 13212 State Route 3, Sackets Harbor

                   • The Cottage Bakery, 24360 County Route 57, Three Mile Bay

                   • Tavern230, 4173 West Road, Turin

                   • Flashback Brewing Company, 1309 State Street, Watertown

                   • Garland City Beer Works, 321 Howk Street, Watertown

                   • Mike’s Pig Pen, 18938 County Route 165, Watertown

                   • Panera Bread, 21872 Towne Center Drive, Watertown

                   • The Grille at Hilton Garden Inn, 1290 Arsenal Street, Watertown

                   • Pearl Street Pub, 557 Pearl Street, Watertown

                   • Pete’s Trattoria, 111 Breen Avenue, Watertown

                   • Tug Hill Hideaway, 1838 Fish Creek Road, West Leyden

    “We are overwhelmed by the number of restaurants that have signed up for
    this new format,” said Mr. Papineau. “Having their participation is key to
    getting people in the community excited and to this being a success.”

    That’s extremely important, he added, as the cook-off is a fundraiser to help
    the VTC transport Veterans and their families.

    “Each year, we raise upwards of $40,000 with the cook-off for that
    purpose,” said Mr. Papineau. “The importance of this event and the money
    raised through it is something that cannot be underscored enough. Not only
    that, we’re hoping this format will help bring business to the restaurants that
    have been hurting during this pandemic. We’re thinking it’ll be a win-win.”

    Mr. Papineau added he and the event’s planning committee hope the world
    will be in a much better state when the cook-off plans to return to the Dulles
    State Office Building in 2022 for its 23rd year.

    This year’s cook-off will run from Monday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 28.
    Hours of each location will be available on the cook-off page of the VTC
    website, Those
    wanting to cast votes will be able to do so in person by paper ballot or
    online through the VTC website. The entry with the most votes will get a
    special plaque denoting them winner of the special edition People’s Choice

    In addition, participating restaurants will be able to win a Top Fundraiser
    Award by collecting donations for the Volunteer Transportation Center. The
    participating team with the highest amount raised will receive this special

    The 22nd Annual North Country Chili Cook-Off is supported by
    “Underwriting Level Sponsors” Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Watertown
    Savings Bank, Stewart’s Shops/The Dake Family, Victory Promotions,
    United Food Service Operators, WWNY-TV 7News/Fox28/MeTV, Tunes
    92.5/Intrepid Broadcasting, Runningboards Marketing, NNY360/Watertown
    Daily Times, and The American Legion Family.

    Additional support comes from “Platinum Level Sponsors” Price Chopper,
    Watertown Internists and Samaritan Medical Center; “Gold Level Sponsors”
    Lake Ontario Cattle Company, Kinney Drugs Foundation, State CS
    Employee Federal Credit Union, Keller Williams-Amy Kenney, Benefit
    Services Group, Advanced Business Systems, Knowlton Technologies,
    Rose & Kiernan Insurance, and North Country Insurance Company; “Silver
    Level Sponsors” The ARC of Jefferson-St. Lawrence, Cheney Tire, RBC
    Wealth Management, Alexandria Bay Post 904 SAL, Brownville Post 588
    SAL, Carthage Area Hospital, The Bonadio Group, DOCO Quick Print,
    Watertown Hearing Aid Center, Barrett Paving Materials, GYMO
    Architecture Engineering & Land Surveying, GEICO Insurance, Key Bank,
    Lake Ontario Realty, and Slack Chemical Company; and “Friends of the
    Cook-Off Sponsors” Hospice of Jefferson County and Bach & Company.

    For more information about the 22nd Annual North Country Chili Cook-Off,
    contact Mr. Papineau at 315-755-2918 or via email at Additional information is available on-
    line at


    The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC), established in 1991, drives
    thousands of miles each year assisting community members in Jefferson, Lewis and
    St. Lawrence Counties. Over the last 20 years, this essential non-profit organization
    has provided rides to health care appointments, grocery shopping, and other
    destinations for residents.

    In 2019, our volunteer drivers provided 30,356 charitable trips over 912,866 miles in
    Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, an increase in miles of 17.47% over
    2018. Of those miles, 424,290 originated in Jefferson County, 141,190 in Lewis
    County, and 347,386 in St. Lawrence County. Data for 2020 is still being compiled

    The staff, Board of Directors and volunteer drivers look forward to a time when
    transportation to community activities and services is accessible to all North Country
    residents regardless of economic or specialized needs. But for now the mission drives
    on — striving to provide transportation to health, wellness and critical needs
    destinations utilizing volunteers and mobility management for anyone who has
    barriers to transportation.

    For more information about how you can help the Volunteer Transportation Center,
    about its upcoming events, or to become a volunteer driver, contact the agency in
    Watertown at 315-788-0422, in Canton at 315-714-2034, or Fulton at 315-714-9134.
    To learn more, visit
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