By Sue Moore
The Chili Cook-off, usually held in the cold and blustery month of March, has been scheduled for Saturday, March 28 in downtown Vicksburg from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sponsored by the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce for the last 13 years, it has become a much-anticipated harbinger of spring, according to Chamber President Brian Pitts. It will also feature a 5K Chili Dash at 10 a.m.
A new location, in the parking lot of PNC Bank, has been chosen for these two complementary events. “We wanted to bring things back downtown after experiencing high winds and cold weather at the community pavilion,” Pitts said. “Even though we wrapped the pavilion entirely in plastic tarps the last several years, we couldn’t keep it heated enough for our hungry customers. This is not a money maker for the Chamber, just a good way to have a community event when not much else is happening.”
The Chamber invites local restaurants to compete in the Chili Cook-off and gives awards to the Peoples’ Choice and a Judges’ Choice at the end of the day. Last year Jaspare’s Pizza won the Judges’ award and the Vicksburg High School Pathways program took the Peoples’ choice.
The big white tent that has been used in the early days of the Chili Cook-off will be back and situated in the PNC Bank parking lot for the first time. That means the Chili Dash, which is a fundraiser for the high school track team, will also take place from the same location and return some time later for the runners to taste the 15-plus varieties of chili. Distant Whistle will also be offering refreshment with its winter beers on tap.
Tickets are 50 cents for each cup to taste the individual chili concoctions. They can be purchased upon entering the tent. Tables and chairs will allow guests to sit and enjoy, keep warm and vote for their favorite chili.