Chili cook-off warms air on bluff

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ah, the aromas of fall — burning leaves, mums, crops being harvested and the mix of chili powder and onions as cooks prepare for the annual Natchez Children’s Home Services/Cellular South Chili Cook-off!

This year’s event will be on Broadway Street beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, and chairman Gina Buckley has taken the coo-off to a new level.

The event is now officially sanctioned by the International Chili Society, with the winner getting to advance to a regional competition.

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This designation has attracted new teams from as far away as Memphis and Baton Rouge, each one hoping their chili will be chosen as the best. Generous cash prizes will go to the top three teams chosen by a panel of judges.

Festivities will begin with the arrival of carnival rides today, and continue with a variety of evening activities on Friday night. These will include a band at Bowie’s Tavern and a street dance on Broadway. One of Skeeter Wilson’s world-famous deer stands will be raffled off for $3 a chance.

The weekend’s activities are timed to coincide with First Friday activities, sponsored by the Natchez Downtown Development Association. This proves an even more diverse array of amusement and entertainment.

Admission is free to all outdoor activities.

On Saturday, the public can enjoy lunch by sampling the variety of special recipes prepared by the cook-off competitors.

A $5 tasting kit entitles you to savor chili and vote to help designate the “People’s Choice.”

While at the event, you’ll enjoy music by “Section 8” who will be playing at the Gazebo.

I urge you to come out and support this effort.

In doing so, you’ll not only be helping your community, but you’ll be supporting Natchez Children’s Home Services, which has provided a safe place of opportunity for children from families in crisis since 1816, without ever seeking federal grant funding.

Joe Mitchell is the director of development for the Natchez Children’s Home Services.