Spice up Halloween with chili cook-off

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

Illustration by Ben Hillyer

Candy isn’t the only treat for food-lovers this Halloween, as Saturday marks the Annual Natchez Rotary Chili Cook-Off.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Broadway Street entrance to the Natchez Grand Hotel on the bluff, the cook-off will feature several teams as they compete for the votes, and taste buds, of judges and visitors. The goal is to raise money for the Natchez Children’s Home Services which, in 2016, will celebrate its 200th year helping children in need.

“All of this needs funding and that is what the chili cook-off funds will do,” NCHS Executive Director Nancy Hungerford said.

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The Rotary Club of Natchez took over the event approximately five years ago. Club President Doug Wimberly said the event gives Rotary Club members a good opportunity to be active in the community.

“This is something that they can get involved in and be the hands and feet out there actually doing something,” Wimberly said.

Wimberly expects 15 to 17 teams to compete this year. Most of the teams consist of members from a company or organization.

Rotary member Curtis Moroney said the competition builds camaraderie amongst workers, or, as member Diana Glaze said, a friendly rivalry between teams.

“Because we’re a small community, I think the people who are participating enjoy the friendly rivalry with all the people, because they know the people they’re competing against,” Glaze said.

For $5, visitors can purchase a chili tasting kit, allowing them to sample the different chilis. The kit also comes with a ticket visitors can give to their favorite chili makers, counting toward the People’s Choice Award. If visitors can’t decide on just one, additional tickets can be purchased.

Booths will be decorated to impress visitors and judges, who will give out awards to the best decorations. “You’re going to see a lot of the teams in costumes,” Wimberly said.

To cool off after the chili, visitors can purchase a beer tasting kit for $5, allowing them to sample different home brews.

But home brews won’t be the only type of beer available.

“We’re also going to have a booth that’s doing homemade root beer floats with homemade root beer,” Wimberly said.

Other child-friendly treats include a blow up slide, face painting and, for Halloween, a costume contest for children 12 and under, to be judged after the chili.

While visitors snack on the chili, visitors can browse the event’s silent auction, with potential prizes such as a three-night stay in a condo at Orange Beach and a three-night, four-day stay at a chalet in Gatlinburg, Tenn. A raffle will also be held for a deer stand, with tickets costing $10 individually or $20 for three.

“It’s one more event on the Natchez calendar that is a fun thing for people to get out and do rather than sit around at home,” Moroney said.

Judging starts at noon. The cost to enter a team is $50, and the last day to register is Friday before the team meeting at 6 p.m. at Bowie’s Barrel Room.