The South Carolina Chili Cook-Off Championships is a nonprofit, family event presented by the Belton Alliance. The event is sanctioned by the International Chili Society and winners qualify for he World Finals later in the year. The 2023 cookoffs will be held for the 13th consecutive year on Saturday, April 22 in beautiful downtown Belton, South Carolina. Proceeds from the Cook-off benefit various community nonprofit organizations such as Belton Interfaith Ministries, Belton Center for the Arts, Belton Area Museum Association and Belton Masonic Lodge #130.
Visit the official SC Chili Cook-Off site at www.scchilicookoff.com for more information.
“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, City of Belton Mayor and SCSCCOC Vice-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 Chairman Gene Jameson.
Over 50 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 tasting bracelets are $15, or 5 samples can be purchassed 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 www.scchilicookoff.com or on the Facebook page. Jameson said: “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. Anyone interested in serving as a judge should send an email to [email protected] by April 15.
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 [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 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 much of the day. Miss South Carolina, Jill Dudley, will also be in attendance.
Vendors selling products such as jewelry, crafts and non-chili food vendors will also be on site.
The crowning of the professional champion in each competition category will be held during the Awards Ceremony 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 electriccityqueens@ gmail.com for more information.
On Friday, April 21, 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. This is a private event for cooks only and event organizers.
“We hope to see you Saturday, April 22, for competing, eating, and enjoying down home hospitality at the SC State Chili Cook-off Championships! It’ll be a lot of fun and raise much needed dollars for local non-profits serving our community.” said Mayor Dorn!