Chili Cook Off Signals the End of a Long Winter – Maybe!

By Sue Moore

Over 20 vendors will have chili samples for a hungry noon lunch crowd at the Vicksburg Community pavilion on Saturday, March 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the annual Chili Cookoff, sponsored by the Vicksburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with the 5K Chili Dash, sponsored by Vicksburg’s high school track team with coach Lucas Wolhuis in charge of the race. All ages are invited to register and run, no matter the weather conditions on that day.

The Chili Cookoff has been a winter event in Vicksburg for over 12 years, having begun as a fundraiser for the Chamber. Three years ago, it moved to the pavilion on N. Richardson Street as a way to avoid the cost of renting a huge tent to house the competitive cooks that participate. The Chamber purchased tarps to surround the west side of the pavilion from the cold winds coming off Sunset Lake the first year at the pavilion. Then catastrophe set in with the winds changing course and coming from the east and the temperature dipping below 10 degrees.

The Chamber purchased enough tarps the second year, 2018, to go around both sides, only to be blessed with a beautiful sunny day in March. “We are ready for anything this year,” said Mandy Miller, Chamber president and chief organizer. “It’s not so much of a fundraiser now. We just want the community to get to know the Chamber, to come and participate, have fun and get to see their neighbors and friends after a long hard winter.”

Tickets are 50 cents to taste individual chili samples. There will be a People’s Choice contest for the most popular chili and a secret Judge’s Choice with prizes for the winners presented between 2 and 3 p.m. Medals for the runners will be presented in the pavilion soon after the race finishes. The race will start at Vicksburg Auto Body Shop on Spruce Street and go along the east side of the village, then through downtown Vicksburg and back to the starting line.

Distant Whistle beer will be available for purchase to complement the many varieties of chili on sale.

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