South Carolina Chili Cook-Off Saturday, April 4
As soon as spring hits the Upstate, Belton is the site of daffodils blooming, baseball bats cracking on the fields, and tasty chili being served up by internationally acclaimed cooks vying for their chance to claim bragging rights, cash prizes, and the adoration of epicureans everywhere.
It’s time for the SC Chili Cook-Off Championship, celebrating its 11th anniversary this year. Professional cooks will create yummy veggie chili recipes and astoundingly intricate meat chili bowls all in the name of good hearted competition while raising money for local charitable causes.
This International Chili Society sanctioned event begins on Saturday, April 4, at 10 AM on the square in Belton. Professional cooks from as far away as California and as local as Main Street Belton will compete in categories for a chance to progress to the International Chili Society World Championships.
By 11:30 AM, fans of spicy foods can come taste the various offerings from both professional and amateur cooks. Tasting bands can be purchased for $15 for unlimited samples, and $5 for 5 tastings. All profits from the tasting bands go to non-profits in town: The Belton Area Museum Association, the Belton Center for the Arts, the Belton Interfaith Ministries Association, Shalom House, and 130 Masonic Lodge programs for children.
Thanks to the patronage of Sauer’s spices, everyone who buys a band will receive trending recipe cards and spice samples.
Amateur cooks can participate in the People’s Choice Awards. By providing at least three gallons of chili for sampling and paying a small entry fee of $25, competitors will seek the votes cast by the crowds who attend, and ultimately one winner will go home with a cash prize.
“We’ve grown from 15 cooks over a three-state area to 60 professional cooks from Florida, Connecticut, Texas, and even California,” said the cooks manager Matt Lusk.
Gene Jameson, co-chair for this year’s event added: “It’s a wonderful event for our county and brings the little city of Belton positive recognition from people coming from all over the United States.”
There will be live music provided by the Combo Kings, flowering and garden plant sales, museum tours, and an art market from 10 AM – 4 PM.
A cruise-in from 10 am – 2 pm will be featured down Breazeale Street on the city’s greenspace. Everyone who is an auto aficionado is invited to participate and the event will show off all types of sports cars and vintage vehicles. For more information, contact Steve Lingerfelt at [email protected] or 864-303-6444.
The Little Miss and Miss Chili Pepper Pageant will be held at the Belton-Honea Path High School auditorium at 11 AM. Contestants from newborn to college age are being sought. Prizes and recognitions are planned for six winner categories and in each of the 11 age divisions. The $50 registration fee is due by March 15. Please contact Melissa Brannon at [email protected] for more information.
For the seventh year in a row, the Belton Area Museum Association will be hosting the Hot Chili Eating Contest. With BestBuy, Darby Metalworks, and Commercial Bank as sponsors, contenders will see who can eat the most bowls of spicy chili in 5 minutes. For a $10 entry fee paid before the 1 pm contest, the winner takes home bragging rights, a roll of tissue, Pepto Bismol, and an Amazon Fire Stick.
Radio stations with live, on-site programming will be present on the square. Vendors selling products such as jewelry, crafts, home-improvement services, and kitchen supplies will also be on site. Applications can be obtained from Kim Matkins at [email protected] or by calling 864-617-5957. There will be a gem mining booth along with fun diversions for children to enjoy.
The crowning of the chili champion in each category (veggie chili, homestyle, people’s choice, verde, and red chili) will be held at 4:30 PM on Saturday.
A commemorative program is being printed, and ads are being sold for very reasonable prices to businesses, civic organizations, churches and others who wish to both support the event and promote their causes. Please call Alison Darby at 864-958-5264 or email at [email protected] for pricing.
Tie-in events are planned prior to and after the Saturday festival. On Friday, April 3, the BAMA Chili Pepper Golf Tourney will be held at Saluda Valley Country Club with a 1 pm shotgun start. Limited to 15 teams, this event offers tons of great prizes to winners in several categories as well as gifts for all golfers. For more information or to register to play, contact Abigail Burden at 864-338-7400or by email at [email protected].
The day after the festival, cooks will be participating in the Kegs-N- Eggs event at the Belton Recreation Center on Blue Ridge Avenue on Sunday from 8:30 AM – 2 PM. Spectators are welcome, but no sampling is available.
If anyone would like to serve as a judge on Saturday or Sunday, please contact Eleanor Dorn, festival co-chair, at [email protected] or by calling 864-940-3913.
Mark your calendars now for competing, eating, and enjoying down home hospitality at the SC Chili Cook-off Championships!
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