Skip to main content

The City Journals

Rotary Club of Sugar House hosts successful Chili Open

Mar 12, 2018 03:58PM ● By Lori Gillespie

The ballroom is set for the Sugar House Rotary Chili Open Gala. (Photo/Rotary Club of Sugar House)

On Saturday, Feb. 10, the Sugar House Rotary hosted its Chili Open Gala in the Grand Ballroom of the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. This year marked the 27th year they have been holding the Chili Open. 

The Chili Open has evolved over the years. For the first 22 years, it was a golf event, played outside in the winter, using orange carpet for the tee boxes and greens. “We had to use colored balls to find them in the snow,” said Errol EerNisse, current president of the Sugar House Rotary. However, they moved the festivities indoors five years ago.  

Over the years, the Sugar House Rotary has raised nearly $4.4 million for the charities involved. The Chili Open is just one way the Sugar House Rotary gives back to the community they love. 

“We typically have 300-400 people attend our event,” said EerNisse, “and this year the Chili Open was terrific. We had lovely background music being played by one of our members, Craig Kaelin. He played the piano while our guests bid on donations during our silent auction cocktail hour.” 

This year’s charities—Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, Cancer Wellness House, People Helping People, Teen Challenge: 180 Ministries for Girls, and The Sharing Place—were in charge of gathering the donations for the silent auction and setting up the donations area. All money raised, except a small portion that stays with the Rotary Club to offset expenses, is distributed to the charities to help with operating costs. 

“We really appreciate the Rotary Club of Sugar House,” said John Gold, executive director of The Sharing Place. “It is really great for all the charities involved to get support from the community. The money that we raised at this year’s event will help support grief support for 10 to 12 kids. We know it takes a lot of time and effort for the Sugar House Rotary to put on the Chili Open, and we are grateful to the Rotary and everyone who attended for their support.” 

The Sugar House Rotary, founded in 1936, is active in humanitarian service and the Chili Open serves as a way for them to give back to the community.  The Chili Open is just one of many ways that the Rotary Club offers service. Every summer the Sugar House Rotary hosts an Adoption Awareness event.  The adoption event typically takes place in August and it is a joint venture with the Division of Child and Family Services and the Adoption Exchange. 

If you are interested in donating to the Chili Open or if you would like more information on how you can be involved with one of their events, please visit