Robert Leach competed against 14 chefs to win the Peoples Choice Award at the annual Fourth of July chili cook off at the Port of Brookings Harbor Wednesday.

Leach earned the honor after receiving the most votes from members of the public who paid $3 each to taste the chilies.

Gail Scriven, owner of The Book Dock, said she counted 237 votes before she determined the winner.

Oasis House, a shelter for battered women, was the days biggest winner. It was given nearly $1,200, generated from chili tasters, donations, $5 registration fees for cooks and watermelon triathlon fees.

This is the best turn out weve had, said Nancy McClelland, Oasis House board chairwoman.

Thank you for supporting women in Curry County, she said.

Last years cook off raised only $630 with 13 chilies.

Judges for the event, Kevin Bane from Kury Radio, Chef Don Tilton and Lori Powell from the Curry Coastal Pilot, spent the afternoon secluded behind a screen inside the covered patio of Slugs n Stones n Ice Cream Cones.

With a little wine, water and bread to cleanse their palates, the trio tasted each chili, which was given a number to conceal the identity of its cook.

With chili number nine, Carol Kasday earned the judges top honor. During the tasting, held on the boardwalk, Kasday was positioned next to third place winner Mac Mazzettia. Mazzettia was last years peoples choice winner.

Second place went to Fran Keith with chili number three. Mazzettia had chili 18, while Leach was given number 51.

The potential heartburn from the chili didnt end the afternoons activities. Ship Ashores Renegade line dancers kept things moving with several numbers, while Pat Silveria from Slugs n Stones registered four-person teams for the watermelon triathlon.

Teams competed in a relay race watermelon eating contest, seed spitting or throwing for accuracy, and seed throwing for distance.

Winning first was the Brookings brother and sister team of Austin, Brianna, Jamie and Juliana Rose.

Juliana, who turns 3 in two weeks, was the events youngest competitor. She was dubbed the teams secret weapon.

But, it wasnt Juliana who won the competition for the siblings. It was Austin who gave the team its lead with the longest seed throw.

Second place was won by Jamie Hammon, Jacob Hammon, Mike Konopinski and Maura Konopinski. Mike stepped in to replace Emily Edmonds who seemed to lose her enthusiasm for watermelon after the eating competition.

In third was Emilie, Chason, Nathan and Tress Mills. Fourth place went to Vickie Schiavone, Krystal McMaster, Don Schiavone and Dewey Tromblee.