Cooks and tasters agree: Everybody wins
Community brings healthy appetite to Winter Lights' mac 'n cheese and chili contests at the Dimmick Inn


Bernice Williams and granddaughter Marissa Gates. Williams won both the mac ‘n cheese (first place) and chili (third place) contests. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris
MILFORD — The queue stretched through the first room out the front door onto the porch all the way to the sidewalk. Tasters packed mac 'n cheese and chili contest held at the Dimmick Inn until there was barely any room left. Two people ate their mac 'n cheese on the porch.
Visitors to the Winter Lights Festival ducked into the Dimmick for warmth, comfort food, and camaraderie. They loved tasting the yummy samples and marking their ballots. Children gave thoughtful consideration before selecting their favorites.
Notables in attendance included Commissioner Matt Osterburg, Milford Borough Board Member Annette Harr, and Blue Path Service Dog in Training, Benni, with trainer Chrisanne Cubby. Some visitors came for the first time, while others proudly announced they'd never missed a tasting.
Debbie Bailey and Joe Cologer with Mary and Michael Carson ran the event. The Carsons began the Winter Lights Festival ten years ago, and the tastings have run for six years. Both are now annual events in Milford.
The Carsons, married for 44 years, have two adult children. Debbie Bailey and Joe Cologer run Bailey Design and Advertising, the company that makes sure the Winter Lights Festival is an advertised success.
'Chili buddies'Winning chef Bernice Williams came with her granddaughter Marissa Gates, 11, now in the fifth grade. Marissa loves skating and is learning to skate backwards this year. The volunteers and the professionals at the Ann Street Rink are teaching her. She's now working on a pirouette.
Marissa loves the skating rink, where she also volunteers to help to shave and form the rink.
Benni, service-dog-in-training, wowed the children, who stroked Bennie and talked to him. Topping the scales at 67.2 pounds, Benni continues to pass many important tests, and is scheduled to graduate from Chrisanne Cubby's training in mid-February. Lots of people in the community will miss seeing Benni around the community, as he learned lessons he'll need when he's placed with an autistic child.
Liv and Bob Tribus, married 57 years, enjoyed the tasting.
"She's just my young bride," Bob said of Liv.
Chris Sakowski joined Commissioner Osterburg for some chili. Osterburg said they are "chili buddies."
Will Osterburg enter the contest next year?
"I'm not a cooker, I'm a taster," he said with a smile.