Running and Eating Chili on a Winter Day

A winter chili cook-off has been a decade-long tradition in Vicksburg. The event will again be hosted March 10 at the community pavilion in the historic village by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want to take advantage of some of the features our beautiful town has to offer,” event chair Mandy Miller explained, “Being at the pavilion ties all the day’s activities together.”

Kicking off the day’s events will be the Vicksburg Chamber Chili Dash 5K run. It is under the management of Vicksburg High School Track Coach Lucas Wolhuis. All proceeds from the race will be donated to the track and field program. The 5K will start and end near the Vicksburg Auto Body Shop on Spruce Street just to the south of the pavilion. The run will travel through the village streets to give runners an up-close view of the village. Registration is $25 and is being handled online until March 2 at, where full details about the 5K may be found. Late and in-person registration begins at 9 a.m. the day of the race. All racers will receive three chili tasting tickets.

Even though the event was moved to the beginning of March from early February, weather usually is a factor in outdoor events such as this, Miller said. The Chamber of Commerce plans to provide temporary shelter from the elements by enclosing most of the pavilion and if necessary, providing heaters to offset the chill.

From 11 a.m.-3 p.m., local area restaurants will offer their favorite chili recipes for visitors to taste and judge. Past participants have included Creekside Grille, Main Street Pub, Taco Bob’s, Distant Whistle Brewhouse, Rise N Dine and Jaspare’s Pizza. This year, the Chamber anticipates 12 vendors, including the new Vicker’s Lakeside Tavern and the Dawg House. Chili styles range from traditional beef and beans to tasty white chicken chili and some non-chili items. Project Graduation will have a bake sale to benefit the class of 2018. This year, the Distant Whistle Brewhouse will be providing local craft beer for the event, with two styles of beer available for purchase at $3 per 12-ounce pour.

Admission to the event is free. Tickets for food items and drinks are 50 cents each. Guests might plan to spend $5 a person for samples, snacks and drinks. The Chili Cook-Off is a family-friendly event and will feature a children’s activity area presented by the Vicksburg Public Library. Attendees will be treated to live entertainment by the cast of Tarzan the Musical from noon-1 p.m. The Chamber will also be hosting a fundraiser sponsored by the South Kalamazoo County Fire Authority. It will offer three chances per person to take a whack at a smashed-up car to raise money for the musical. Depending on the weather, the Historical Village buildings will be open for tours.

“The Chamber is taking the opportunity for this event to bring together, schools, community and the businesses” Miller said. “We encourage all to come and have a great time and experience what makes Vicksburg so wonderful.”

The schedule for the day is as follows:
9 a.m. – Late/In-Person 5K Registration ($30 fee)

10 a.m. – 5K begins

11 a.m. – Chili Cook-Off begins

Noon to 3 p.m. – Trash the Car and Historical Village Tours

3 p.m. – Event ends

The Chili Cook-Off is hosted by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce, which uses its proceeds to fund future events such as the Taste of Vicksburg. Interested sponsors and volunteers may contact the Chamber at and Facebook.

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