Big Chili Cook-off expected to be a hot time Sept. 13

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Get your taste buds ready for a spicy rumble: The eighth annual Big Chili Cook-off is Sunday, Sept. 13.

The event features much more than chili, according to Leslie Caimi, the event coordinator. There are also non-chili food vendors, an art show, live music, kids’ activities and the firefighter challenge competition.

The cookoff opens at 11 a.m., with chili sampling beginning at noon at Evergreen Lake. Awards are presented at 5 p.m., and the event ends just afterward.

Tickets are $12 in advance for adults, and children 10 and under are admitted free. Tickets are available at the King Soopers and Safeway stores in Evergreen and Conifer or online at www.bigchili.org. Tickets are $15 the day of the event.

The cook-off is really all about helping local firefighters. Last year, it raised $25,000, and Caimi hopes that even more will be raised this year. Firefighters, by the way, get in free to the event.

Proceeds benefit the Blue Spruce Kiwanis Foundation and six mountain area fire departments: Evergreen, Elk Creek, Inter-Canyon, Indian Hills, Platte Canyon and North Fork. The money is used to buy firefighting equipment that the fire departments wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

Thirty-five cooks will make a variety of chilis. Some cooks make one chili for sampling and judging, while others make as many as three. Categories are red, green and vegetarian chili, which is a new category this year, Caimi said.

Awards are given out for best chili, plus the best firehouse chili, the people’s choice award and the showmanship award.

The cook-off will take place rain or shine. In years past, Caimi said, “the weather gods have smiled on us.”

She’s hoping for fabulous weather this year, too.