SC Chili Cook-Off

A nonprofit, family event that qualifies the SC contender for the International Chili Society’s World Finals.

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The 2021 cookoffs will be held on Saturday, May 14.  We are an officially sanctioned event of the International Chili Society and we are a qualifying event for the ICS World Championship. Proceeds from our Cook-off benefit various Upstate nonprofit organizations such as Belton Interfaith Ministries, Belton Center for the Arts, Belton Museum Association, Belton Masonic Lodge #130 and Shalom House Recovery Center.

Visit the offcial SC Chili Cook-Off site:


Everyone is invited to join us on May 14, in beautiful downtown Belton for the 12th annual SC State Chili Cook-off Championship, presented by IMS Belton.

“Whether you want to sample the amazing culinary talents of champion chili cooks from around the nation or  want to try your hand at competing yourself, the SC State Chili Cook-off Championship is waiting for you!” said Eleanor Dorn, SCSCCOC co-chair.

“Professional cooks from as far away as California and as local as Main Street Belton will compete for a chance to progress to the International Chili Society World Championships,” said SCSCCOC co-chair Gene Jameson.

Over 50 plus professional and amateur chili cooks are expected to light up their fires for competition and the best part is attendees get to taste the entries too! Tasting begins at 11:30 am. Unlimited taste bracelets are $15 or 5 samples can be had for $5.

All profits from the sale of 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 the Belton Masonic Lodge #130 Children’s Programs.

Professional cooks who are members of the ICS will compete in four categories: traditional red, homestyle, chili verde, and salsa.  Great cash prizes and distinctive trophies are awarded to winners.

Amateur cooks can participate in the People’s Choice and Organizational 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 traditional homestyle competitor in each category will go home with a cash prize. Entry information can be found on the website at or on the Facebook page.

“A new category is also offered this year,” said Jameson.  “If you think you have a good enough recipe to compete with the professionals but you’ve never formally competed, you can participate in the Amateur Homestyle Chili Competition.”

For a $30 fee, Amateur category chili  entries will go through the judging process, and cooks will receive feedback from professional cooks who will give pointers and tips to give a competitive edge in a future professional competition.   Applications for this category are online as well.

Judges for all four categories of the professional competition are being sought now.

“If you are interested in serving as a judge, please send an email to me at [email protected] by May 11,” said Eleanor Dorn, SCSCCOC co-chair.

While at the festival there are lots of other activities to enjoy.  People can do some good by giving blood for our area banks. The Blood Connection will be onsite from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Sign up now at their website for a time to donate, or last minute donors are always welcome. Everyone who donates will receive a $20 gift card.

“ If you have a car that you are proud of and want to show it off, why don’t you cruise on in to Belton City Square from 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM?” said Steve Lingerfelt, organizer of the cruise in.

The Belton Masonic Lodge #130 invites all auto enthusiasts to join in the fun, with no registration necessary. For more information, contact Steve Lingerfelt at steve.ling[email protected] or 864-303-6444.

And children’s activities will be available such as face painting, playing corn hole, and making art sponsored by the Belton Center for the Arts.

Historical tours of the Belton Area Museum Association’s newest exhibit SC’s Most Wanted in the North End Gallery and guided tours of the SC Tennis Hall of Fame and the Ruth Drake Museum of Local History will be available from 10 AM – 4 PM.

The amazing music of the Combo Kings will delight the crowds throughout the day. In addition, Rock 101 with Stoneman will present live, on-site programming on the square.

Vendors selling products such as jewelry, crafts, home-improvement services, and non-chili food vendors will also be on site including Southern Smoke BBQ and Wainani  Shaved Ice.

The crowning of the professional champion in each competition category will be held at 4:30 PM on Saturday.

Tie-in events are also planned prior to and after the Saturday festival.

The Little Miss and Miss Chili Pepper Pageant will be held at the Watkins Community Center  auditorium at 11 AM on Saturday, May 7.  Contestants from 18 months to college age are being sought.  Prizes and recognitions are planned for winner categories and divisions.  Please contact Melissa Brannon at [email protected] for more information.

On Friday, April 13, the BAMA Chili Pepper Golf Tourney will be held at Saluda Valley Country Club with a 1 PM shotgun start.  Prior to the start, a hearty lunch provided by Southern Smoke BBQ will be served to all participants and then they can all try their putting skills at the putting contest.   Limited to 15 teams, this event offers tons of great prizes to winners in several categories as well as swag to all golfers.  For more information or to register to play, contact Alison Darby at 864-958 5264 or 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.

“See you Saturday, May 14,  for competing, eating, and enjoying down home hospitality at the SC State Chili Cook-off Championships!” said SCSCCOC co-chair and mayor Eleanor Dorn!