Spicing things up for firefighters

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11th annual Big Chili Cook-off features food, music, art

By Sandy Barnes

This year’s 11th annual Big Chili Cook-off again supports mountain firefighters while offering folks a chance to sample spicy cuisine.

The setting for this year’s event on Sunday, Sept. 9, will be Evergreen Lake, where the Chili Cook-off competition, Firefighter Challenge and a juried art show will take place. Children’s activities at the event include face painting, jump castles and an arts and crafts tent.

Gates open at 10:30 a.m., and chili sampling begins at 11 a.m. A gathering of 60 cooks will offer more than 100 chili recipes in red, green and vegetarian categories that they have prepared in the early morning hours.

“Our cooks make such a huge difference,” said event organizer Kristin Witt.

Live music will begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day until 6 p.m. Local bands will include Young Austin, Open Space, The Bucktones, Wendy Woo, Nina Story, No Longer Boys, Flywheel, the Melodic Delights Ensemble, and the jazz duo Two Guitars Telling a Story.

The traditional Firefighter Challenge in whiich volunteers put their skills to the test begins at 12:30 p.m.

A firefighter tribute will be held at 2:30 p.m., and the chili cook awards will be presented at 4:15 p.m.

The event benefits six mountain area fire departments and the Blue Spruce Kiwanis Foundation. The fire departments use the money to pay for training or equipment, Witt said.  

“This has been a hard year for firefighters,” Witt said, referring to the devastating Lower North Fork Fire south of Conifer this past spring. “This year, we would like to support them as much as possible.”

The outlying fire departments are especially in need of assistance, Witt added.

The cook-off is sponsored by Blue Spruce Kiwanis, which began the festival as a benefit for firefighters who serve their communities and also as a tribute for those who died in the line of duty. 

Main sponsors for the event include State Farm, Cactus Jack's and the Canyon Courier.

Also, Rio del Sol restaurant is cooking food and sponsoring a beer garden. 

“We have had a good response this year,” Witt said. “Everyone has been so generous.” 

New at this year’s event will be mascots from the Avalanche and Nuggets teams, which will be awarding game tickets to firefighters.

Tickets are $15 per person the day of the event. They also may be purchased online for $12. Tickets also are available at King Soopers and Safeway in Evergreen and Conifer until 6 p.m. the Saturday preceding the event.

“Every family that comes makes a huge difference,” said Witt.

For more information, visit the Big Chili Cook-off website at www.bigchili.org.


Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.