When the new Silt Branch Library opened in 2012, the plaza between it and town hall quickly became a coveted community space.
“It just seemed like we should have events there,” Janet Aluise, town of Silt community development director, said. “One of our staff members said that she had been to a chili cook-off in another locale and mentioned it about eight-years-ago so we got to work planning it, and it’s been going strong ever since.”
This year’s chili cook-off, put on by the town of Silt, will take place Friday, Nov. 1 from 5-8 p.m. in the town hall/library plaza.
Several participants from Silt and neighboring communities will each prepare at least three gallons of red or green chili for attendees to sample.
“It’s not a tremendously serious competition, but there is some seriously good chili at the plaza,” Aluise said.
As of Thursday morning, Aluise said 10 chili cook-off competitors had signed up for Friday’s event but expected a few more entrants.
“We fill the plaza and sometimes it’s just packed,” Aluise said. “Other times it’s just a great event with a couple hundred people.”
Tasting fees are $7 for adults, $4 for kids between the ages of six and 17 and $4 for adults 62 and over. Additionally, chili cookers pay an entry fee of $20.
Fees allow attendees to sample both red and green chilis.
The event offers free coffee, water and hot chocolate as well as beer for purchase.
Local Girl Scout Troop 244 will offer baked goods for sale as part of its fundraising efforts, too.
“Any nonprofit gets to enter for free because that’s the least we can do for our nonprofits,” Aluise said. “Most every year we’ve had the Girl Scouts making chili or putting on a bake sale and it’s nice because it allows the community to see how hard these girls work.”
This year’s chili cook-off will also feature a DJ courtesy of Two Rivers Productions as well as a kids’ tent equipped with foosball, table tennis, basketball and skee-ball.
“It’s just an area that the kids can escape to if they’re not into chili, which some kids aren’t,” Aluise said.
Aluise recalled one year when the temperature dipped to nearly zero degrees, however a couple hundred attendees still showed up for the annual chili cook-off.
“Having it as an outdoor event definitely gives it some flavor,” Aluise said.
One of this year’s chili cook-off competitors includes Silt resident, Lindsey Sidener.
“I hear the fire department puts out a really good chili every year, so we’ve got some stiff competition,” Sidener said.
Sidener planned on utilizing locally sourced vegetables from Peach Valley CSA Farm, local brisket and a few other secret ingredients for her red chili.
Six cash prizes will go to the top three red and green chili concoctions, as determined by a handful of judges.
“The prize for first place in each category is $175. Second place is $100 and third place is $50,” Aluise said. “We’ve had the whole gamut. We’ve had the young cookers come out, and they’ve never done an event before, and then we’ve had the people who are seasoned and have done several events.”
“It’s just a great social event.”