After our fantastic trip to Switzerland, Matt and I returned to the busiest week OF OUR LIVES (a friend at work recently told me I speak in hyperboles; he might be right). Matt had taken 2 days off from work and had much to catch up on, while I needed to acquire a visa in less then 6 days! I only learned that a volunteer visa was available for me in Ireland a day before leaving on our trip, so when we returned, it was do-or-die time. As in, I would be deported from the country had I not been successful. Obviously, as you read this, you know that I was successful, because here I am in our apartment in Dublin, completely a legal entity in the country…WHEW!
With my possible deportation worries out of the way, Matt and I were able to focus on preparing for the event of the year: the AWCD Chili Cook-Off & Poker Tournament. We’d been in the works of planning this charity event for awhile, and the time finally came. We hosted the event at the Rockfield Lounge in Dundrum – the pub located just at the front of our complex. Attendees would either be able to take the LUAS (tram) right to the pub, or use the LUAS Park and Ride parking garage. Convenient and easy, it was the ideal location. 7 women in the American Women’s Club entered a chili into the competition, which occurred for about 3 hours of the night. At the same time, 4 Full Tilt poker tables were set up with 10 players at each, including a few women in Club wanting to test their hand at Texas Hold’em.
The chili cook-off and tournament was set up to benefit our charity, the ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Chili entries cost 10 euros to the charity, and our winner received a donated basket of American food. What American gal living in Ireland wouldn’t want a humongous basket of American foods they can’t get easily? As for anyone who wanted a taste, it was free to sample all of the chilis, but donation buckets sat along the table. A separate set of poker chips sat in a bowl and were used to vote by placing a chip in the glass next to your favorite chili. Our Philanthropic Chair made corn-bread muffins to accompany the chilis, and just about everyone that came by threw some sort of donation into a bucket. While all of the chilis were superb, including a classic Cincinnati Skyline Chili, Christina (our very own Christinabelle jewelry designer) won the top prize with her scrumptious dish.
The poker tournament set-up was a great concept, and run fantastically by my brilliant boyfriend. The buy-in was 20 euros to play, with unlimited 20 euro re-buys in the first hour, and an opportunity to add-on another 20 euro worth of chips at the end of the first hour. At the end of the night, 50% of the money in the pot went to the ISPCC, and the other 50% went into the prize pool to be split accordingly between the top finishers. When the tournament started, I felt a rush of pride. The sound of the chips, the women whooping when they won a hand, the laughter at each table – it was a rush. All the while, people continued to taste chili, grab drinks, and socialize. It was a new type of event for the Club, and I could tell the women and their husbands were really enjoying themselves.
Now, not every event goes off without a hitch. We had a few rowdy locals playing poker that eventually needed to be “encouraged” to leave, but other than that, everyone had a fantastic time and the main goal was always at the forefront of our minds. Though I was running around most of the evening making sure everything went perfectly, it was a fantastic event. Women were saying how glad they were to come, even if it was just because they met someone new. A couple of our gals made it to the final rounds of the tournament (represent!) and all of the chili was devoured. The bonus – we raised a great sum for the ISPCC!