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Joshua Thomas
Jerry Shaul scoops a sample of chili prepared by Palatine Bridge Mayor James Post Saturday.

Joshua Thomas
Stacy Ward (left), second place winner in Saturday's chili cook-off, with Rita Pineyro, first place winner.

Joshua Thomas
The Jan Cronkhite Trio, including (from left) Jan Cronkhite on sax, Jim Miller on keyboards, and Pat Clark on guitar, plays during Saturday's chili cook-off.

Joshua Thomas
Jan Cronkhite plays as part of a trio containing his name Saturday.


Chili and historical artifacts featured during Van Alstyne Homestead event

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - Updated: 8:48 AM


C-S-E Editor

CANAJOHARIE -- On Saturday, chili cook-off participant Rita Pineyro won against numerous competitors, but it was the attendees of the Van Alstyne Homestead's first-ever chili-cook off that were the true winners. Not only were they able to try chili from a plethora of local chefs, but they were able to view, for the first time ever, numerous items from the Van Alstyne Homestead museum's collection.

One item put on display for Saturday's event, which will be on display throughout the year, is an accession book, by Rufus Grider, with contributions by the building's once-owner A.G. Richmond, documenting items loaned to the Mohawk Valley Historical Society over an approximately seven year period.

The original owners of the book, the Fort Rensselaer Club, could've been in possession of it as early as 1903, commented Van Alstyne Homestead President John Buck. 

The book not only meticulously documents each item loaned by the club, along with its features and attributes, but also contains drawings of those items by Rufus Grider.

Another unique item on display was a painting by Herbert Meyer. The painting is extremely recognizable to locals, as it adorns the top of the famous Beech-Nut tin that can be found at almost any Mohawk Valley antique shop or show. 

While the Van Alstyne Homestead Society has been in possession of the painting for a long time, Buck said that it was displayed in a out-of-the-way space where attendees weren't able to regularly see it. It's now proudly displayed on the wall in the facility's front room, adjacent to the ballroom where competitors cooked chili in order to raise money for the organization Saturday.

"The competition was very strong on the chili," Buck commented, noting that many people passed through the local landmark during the four hour event. "Everybody had a great time," he said.

Chili champion Rita Pineyro noted that she's been making chili for about 40 years, with a recipe partially inspired by her husband's Mexican heritage. "The winter, when it's really cold, is when we like it," she said of the chili, which she explained has a Tex-Mex heritage, the main ingredient being meat, with beans, cumin and chili powder added. 

Pineyro said that she brings her chili powder straight from Mexico, because it's pure powdered chili, with no added ingredients. "That gives it a good taste," said Pineyro, who came into the hall the day prior to the event to set up, and prepared enough chili for 50 people on Friday night.

Of the event, Pineyro stated, "It's been very nice, very pleasant." She noted that the music, by the Jan Cronkhite Trio, was "beautiful," adding that earlier in the day there were numerous people using the ballroom to full effect, taking the opportunity to dance.

When asked whether she'd participate again next year, Pineyro, smiling, commented, "I have to defend my title."

East Hill Elementary Principal Stacy Ward won second place for her chili, which came with small pieces of toasted garlic bread, which she prepared the day of the event. 

Ward said that her and fellow competitor Middle School Principal Douglas Morrissey were already discussing plans for next year's event, should the Van Alstyne Homestead Society choose to hold it again.

"This is quite an event and I really hope they continue," stated Ward, adding that the experience has been "fantastic — so much fun."

Joshua Thomas - Rita Pineyro scoops out samples of her first-place chili Saturday for attendees.

Joshua Thomas - Canajoharie Middle School Principal Douglas Morrissey, a chili cook-off competitor, is pictured Saturday.

Joshua Thomas - Karen Clark, a chili cook-off competitor, is pictured scooping a sample Saturday.

Joshua Thomas - From left, chili cook off competitors Stacy Ward (second place winner), Jerry Shaul (serving Palatine Bridge Mayor James Post's chili), Zachary Labagh and Karen Clark.

Joshua Thomas - Zachary Labagh scoops a sample of chili during Saturday's event.

Joshua Thomas - Van Alstyne Homestead President John Buck educates a group about some of the historical artifacts contained in the building.

Joshua Thomas - Van Alstyne Homestead President John Buck shows off the painting by Herbert Meyer, now prominently on display, that graces the cover of the famous Beech-Nut tin.

Joshua Thomas - An accession book by Rufus Grider and A.G. Richmond was put on display Saturday for the first time ever at the Van Alstyne Homestead.

Joshua Thomas - These South Pacific artifacts, purchased by a Van Alstyne Homestead Society member in 1904, were put on display Saturday for the first time.


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