Annual Rotary chili cook-off marries craft beer, chili for second year

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photo illustration by Ben Hillyer

Photo illustration by Ben Hillyer

Homemade chili meets home-brewed beer again this year at the fourth annual Rotary Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off.

The event, which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Natchez as a fundraiser for the Natchez Children’s Home Services, began to include the addition of a variety of craft beers from local home brewers last year.

Rotarian Doug Wimberly said the success of last year’s event made organizers of the event want to bring back the craft beer aspect to an already competitive and delicious chili cook off.

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“We felt like if we wanted to grow the event we had to add something that was new and exciting every year,” Wimberly said. “People already know we have some great chili they can come out and taste each year, but we want to keep adding things to make sure people come out each year.”

Last year, Natchez resident Allen Richard and Vidalia resident Chris Couie brought several beers to the Natchez Bluff to distribute during the cook-off.

Couie said he plans on bringing a English blonde ale, an Irish red ale, a pumpkin spice beer and a chocolate coffee stout — all award winning brews in regional and statewide contests — to the event this year.

The Vidalia resident said he was thrilled with the turnout at last year’s event and is excited to particpate again this year.

“I was only going to take 15 gallons of beer last year, but I brought 20 just in case, and I didn’t have any left,” Couie said. “It’s always a lot of fun to be out there watching them cook the chili and just enjoying the event.

“There’s nothing like enjoying some good homemade chili with some good beer — it’s a match made in heaven.”

Couie said the popularity of the event last year showed him that the Miss-Lou is ready to embrace the craft brew explosion that’s occurring across the South.

“What it does is answer the question of do people really want this here?” Couie said. “The answer is obviously, ‘yes.’

“There was such an enormous response last year, and I see nothing indicating that this year will be any different.”

Joining Couie at the bash will be Pat and Lisa Miller with the Natchez Brewing Company, a local brewery scheduled to open later this year.

Apart from the craft beers the homebrewers brought last year to the event, root beer was also served, and Wimberly said organizers wanted to capitalize on its popularity this year.

“We’re looking to add selling root beer floats apart from just the regular root beer,” Wimberly said. “That will be something new we’re looking forward to trying this year.”

The chili cook-off will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, on the bluff across from the Natchez Grand Hotel.

A $5 chili tasting kit will provide a sample of all the chili recipes from local business, organizations and friends who will make up the nearly 20 teams participating in the event.

Residents can also purchase a beer tasting wristband for $5 to sample the various brews that will be showcased at the event.

Those wanting to help their favorite recipe win can purchase a people’s choice ballot for $1 each.

A children’s area with a blow-up slide, jumping gym and face painting will also be available.

A silent auction will be hosted by the Natchez Children’s Home Services including a variety of items.

A “best decorated booth” award will also be given out to the team with the most creatively decorated booth.

Donations will also be accepted for a variety of services offered by the NCHS.