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Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser and competition: 50 restaurants bring the heat ‘for a great cause’

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Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser

MILWAUKEE -- Fifty Milwaukee restaurants brought the heat on Sunday, March 11 during WMSE's 16th annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser.

More than 4,000 people filtered through the Kern Center, and with their chili trays in hand, they chose winners in five categories: best meat, best vegetarian, most unique chili, best heat and best display.

"Sort of organized chaos here. Everyone is friendly. Everyone's having a good time. Nobody knows where they're going," said Jack Abler, attendee.

CLICK HERE for a complete list of winners, runners up for this year's fundraiser

"It's on the cusp of spring, and everybody has a little bit of cabin fever," said Tom Crawford, WMSE station manager.

Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser

All proceeds would benefit WMSE -- Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE)'s radio station.

Jameson Tram

"It's for a great cause. Great people," said Jameson Tramm, 2017 vegetarian chili winner.

Tramm on Sunday was competing to hold onto his title.

"We like to put our own little twist on things. Last year's chili was a vegetarian chili that we made vegan this year by omitting some butter. We didn't expect to win it, but we're here to defend the title, and glad we did," said Tramm.

Milwaukee's firefighters also brought the heat with a chili dubbed "Burnin' Love," raising money for MFD's annual "Warm Up Winter" kids coat initiative.

"We're on the streets each and every day, and quite often we're in people's homes and we see children, especially on cold day, children were staying home, and not going to school oftentimes because they didn't have a warm coat to wear. This is an opportunity to give back," said Michael Ball, community relations director for MFD.

Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser

This year's winners won't be revealed until Monday afternoon. WMSE officials hoped to raise a new record high of $75,000. The grand total will also be announced sometime Monday.