It’s Getting Chili in Here

Article Published: Jan. 24, 2013 | Modified: Jan. 27, 2013
It’s Getting Chili in Here

The Blowing Rock School Gymnasium is packed with chili lovers sampling the wares, during the 2012 Chili Challenge at the Blowing Rock WinterFest. This year’s cook-off is set for Saturday, Jan. 26.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Chili is one of the most adaptable foods known to man.

If you are a vegetarian, there are hundreds of versions of meatless chili to be found. If you like hot and spicy, there are multiple ways to turn up the heat on your recipe.

Some like it sweet, some like it tart, some even make their special recipes with special ingredients, such as mangoes or coffee.

Whatever kind of chili you love, you are sure to find it at the 15th annual WinterFest Chili Challenge. This year’s event will be held at the Blowing Rock School Gymnasium from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

Once you’ve handed over your ticket, you’ll get a spoon for tasting more than 50 different styles of chili, some made by award-winning chefs.

WinterFest’s Chili Challenge is not just a forum for tasting chili, but an official chili cook-off sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society (CASI). The event features three competitions: One for restaurant and catering professionals, one for amateurs and one for CASI members.

The amateur cooks will be competing for cash prizes, including $350 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

The professional cooks will be competing for the coveted “Traveling Chili Trophy,” a handmade sculpture by Blowing Rock artist Alex Hallmark, to display in their business until next year’s competition.

The CASI members will be competing for trophies and chili points. The points are gathered at various chili cook-offs around the country and help earn them invitations to the annual International Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas.

“The Chili Appreciation Society International’s mission is to promote chili and raise money for charity,” said a spokesman for CASI. “Involved in over 500 chili cook-offs a year, CASI raises over $1 million annually for local charities.”

There are also “people’s choice” awards that are determined by the tasting public, and an award for best table display.

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