SC Chili Cookoff Championships

South Carolina Chili Cookoffs Saturday, April 20

What could be more exciting than a beautiful spring day spent sampling the world’s best chili? You can enjoy this and more if you join us on Saturday, April 20, in Belton for the 14th Annual SC State Chili Cook-off Championship, brought to you by Deals Galore.

Whether you want to sample the amazing culinary talents of champion chili cooks from around the nation or you try your hand at competing yourself, the SC State Chili Cook off Championship is waiting for you!

“We have 28 professional cooks signed up right now and are looking for more amateur competitors in the individual and organizational categories,” said co-chairman Gene Jameson.  “It’s always fun to see this side of the competition heat up.”

Cooks in the professional arena can compete in four categories: traditional red, homestyle, chili verde, and veggie. Amateur cooks, both individual and organizations, can compete in People’s Choice and Amateur Homestyle competitions.

Great cash prizes will be awarded to winners. And best of all, professional winners qualify for the International Chili Society World Championship!

Or, if you just love a good chili, no matter what kind, come buy a tasting ticket packet (5 tickets for $5) or band (unlimited tastes for $20) so you can sample the best chili around. With your tickets or band, you can expect the chance to sample from among at least 30 varied chili recipes.  Tastings will begin at 11:30.  Come between the peak hours of 11:30 and 2 and look for the balloons and cast your vote for your favorite.

Proceeds  from the band and ticket sales benefit six non-profits in our town who provide quality of life and emergency services for our community including the Belton Alliance, the Belton Area Museum Association, the Belton Center for the Arts, the Belton Interfaith Ministries Association, the Belton Masonic Lodge #130-Christmas for Kids program. and American Legion Post 51 boys & Girls State Program.

“If you would like to be a judge, we are always looking for people with great taste buds,” added Jameson.

“Email [email protected] to offer your services and we will get back with you about times and categories to judge,” he added.

In addition to the great chili, entertainment and fun abounds, as visitors can view extraordinary artwork at the Belton Center for the Arts and experience the history of our area at the Belton Area Museum Association. There are activities for all ages, flower and plant sales by BHP FFA, great crafters and food vendors, and fun for the entire family.

A cruise-in  from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm will be featured down North Main Street.  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.

“And if you want to feel good, donate some blood for disaster victims,” said Lori Maness, committee member.

OneBlood will be onsite from 10 am – 5 pm taking donations.  Everyone who donates will receive a gift card and signature t-shirt. Pre-registration can be done at their website or just walk in the day of with your ID.

Miss South Carolina  is slated to make an appearance along with our local beauties who will be serving as  official ambassadors of the event.   And for your entertainment, The Combo Kings will take the stage and play all types of music throughout the day that will get you up and dancing in the street.

The chili tasting will end at 4:00, or when the chili runs out.  The event will conclude with an awards ceremony at 4:30.

All these activities are brought to the public thanks to our many sponsors.

“We truly appreciate Deals Galore enough for being this year’s  Presenting Habanero Sponsor this year,” stated committee member Sam Gilmer.  “Check out their deals at their newly updated location in Williamston on Beaverdam Road.”

Additional sponsors include Charleston Hot Pepper Sponsors (City of Belton HTAX, Anderson County Council-Greg Elgin, Anderson County ATAX, the Combo Kings), Cayenne Sponsors (Mayor Eleanor and Richard Dorn, Clinkscales Chevrolet, Jameson Woodworks, Leadec, Maynard’s Home Furnishings), Jalapeno Sponsors (Palmetto Insurance-Keys Agency, First Quality, Sam Gilmer Photography, Anderson Magazine, Electric City News), and Poblano Sponsors (Belton Tire Company, Creative Grants, Commercial Bank, Timken, Earth Materials Grading, Edward Jones, News Chronicle, Senator Mike Gambrell, Representative Jay West, South State Bank, UPS Store,  Arc3, A and D Auto Sales, and State Farm-Amanda Thompson Agency).

There are two pre-festival events planned in addition to the weekend competition.  On Saturday, April 13, the Chili Pepper Pageant is being held at Watkins Community Center in Honea Path. Contestants from newborn to college age are being sought.  Prizes and recognitions are planned for six winner categories and in each of the 7 age divisions.  The $70 registration fee is due by April 10.    Please contact Melissa Brannon at [email protected]  for more information.

On Friday, April 19, the BAMA Chili Pepper Golf Tourney will be held at Saluda Valley Country Club with a barbecue lunch and putting contest at 12:00 and 1:00 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 864-338-7400 or by email at [email protected].

The day after the festival, professional cooks will participate in the Kegs-N- Eggs competition at the Belton Recreation Center on Blue Ridge Avenue from 8:00 AM – 3 PM.  Additional judges are needed for this event.  Spectators are welcome, but no sampling is available.

For more information or to apply to be a professional or amateur competitor, please visit our website at

Mark your calendars now for competing, eating, and enjoying down-home hospitality at the SC

State Chili Cook-off Championship!  Come on down to Belton and light those fires!

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