This was a popular event but not overcrowded. You could even find a parking spot.
The Non-Chili Vendors
As you entered the fest you were surrounded by vendor and non-profit tents. The Chamber of Commerce was hosting a 50/50 raffle and scavenger hunt for visiting the local non-profits. If you finished the scavenger hunt, you’d be entered into a raffle for one hundred dollars. Sounds like fun. It was great to see so many services reaching out to the community and helping people be aware of what the community has to offer. There were food vendors there too if you weren’t into chili. I saw the Common Man selling mac and cheese, another selling hot chocolate and cider, and one selling popcorn and cotton candy.
There were twenty participants vying for the Peoples’ Choice Award for best chili. Six were businesses, eight were non-profits, and six were individuals. As you tasted the chili there was a live band doing rock cover songs and later when they took a break, a mix of current radio hits could be heard in the background. People sat on the grass or stood mingling and eating their chili. I saw a gentleman and a youth doing martial arts demonstrations, representing a local dojo.
Most of the chilis were medium in heat with a few mild. I didn’t see any hot, but I didn’t try them all so I easily could’ve missed it. I’m wondering it ‘Backdraft Chili’ was a hot one I missed: great name. It was fun to see how the chilis had cool names like ‘The Bomb’ or ‘Howdy Rodeo Chili.’
Each chili I tried had a unique flavor, so I didn’t feel like I was eating the same chili over again. Regardless of the type of chili you like, there was one for you at the chili cook off to appeal to your taste buds. ‘The Bomb’ chili by Karen Shaw was sweet. I liked how she added the touch of sour cream, cheese, and corn bread if you wanted. Taverne on the Square was tangy and spicy, the Howdy Rodeo had a stronger onion flavor, and the Golden Cross Ambulance was meaty with a mild sausage flavor. Many I tried offered cheese too, which really added to the flavor. The Girl Scouts even offered cookies and one (I had to laugh) offered antacid tablets.
My favorites of the ones I tried (I only tried about half) were Crown Pointe Cabinetry, The Claremont Girl Scout Troop 30261, and Heart of Claremont Mason-Dixon Line Chili. They all had a nice balance of meat, spice, and texture. I wish I could’ve stayed longer because I know there were more that I’m sure were delicious and I know I missed out on more cornbread, but there’s always next year.
It was a bit hard to juggle the rating and eating so maybe next time there could be chairs or tables set up so you could put your cup down to rate the chili?
Definitely a fun fall activity worth the admission that I would do again.