by Madison V. Fisler
Jan. 13, 2014. January is here, and that means the Blowing Rock WinterFest 2014 is headed our way. The huge celebration of all things winter will include the annual WinterFEAST, the ever popular polar plunge and oh so much more. But for many, one of the most exciting parts of the WinterFest Celebration is the annual Chilly Chili Challenge.
This year, however, the challenge is being put on by Blowing Rock Elementary School.
“The Blowing Rock School needs to raise $75,000 for new playground equipment for the kids,” said Billie Rogers, event coordinator at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, the entity that usually puts on the Chili Cookoff.
“We gave this event to the Blowing Rock School so they could use it to raise money for the school.”
The Chilly Chili Challenge will kick of Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. The yearly chili cook-off between restaurants, freestyle cooks and proclaimed chili-masters is hot competition indeed, with many different entrants preparing their honed recipes to take home the top prize.
The competition annually draws a crowd of more than 1,000 people to try all of the different chili offered by the fierce competition.
There will be three categories in the competition, from freestyle, to business, and restaurant categories, and chili gurus will face fierce competition for the top prize.
Chili Challenge regulars will notice that this is a slight deviation from previous years.
“We are adding a business category that was not there in the past to replace the CASI category,” said Kevin Tincher, vice president of the Blowing Rock Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) who is coordinating the event.
“This will hopefully help us raise some money toward our goal of $75,000.”
There will also be a “People’s Choice” chosen by the tasters at the event.
“We will be selling tickets for people to put in jars in order to vote for their favorite,” Tincher said. “The winner will receive a prize.”
Restaurant competitors will strut their stuff in hopes of earning the coveted Traveling Chili Trophy, a highly sought after sculpture by Alex Hallmark to display proudly in their restaurant until the next chili king is crowned the next year.
The business category will be a test of culinary prowess to win a Blowing Rock School Sponsor Banner for the year. The business category replaces the CASI category, which was reserved for members of the Chili Appreciation Society International.
Freestyle competitors receive a bountiful basket of goodies valued at $500, $250 and $100 for first, second and third place, respectively.
Tickets to the Chilly Chili Cookoff are $7 for adults and $5 for children over five. The competition will take place at the Blowing Rock School gymnasium off of Morris Street.
Registrations and volunteers are still being sought for the annual cook-off.
“We will still be taking registrations until the day of, and we are still soliciting volunteers and prizes,” Tincher said.
Don’t miss out on what has become one of the most highly anticipated events in the High Country, and come out to support a great cause.
Check out our photos from previous Chili Challenges.
Photos by Todd Bush