Got an original chili recipe? You might have what it takes to compete in the 12th annual Polar Meltdown Chili Cook-Off, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 19 at the ARK Community and Sports Center in Waynesville.
Teams of up to six members and individual entries (which can include up to 3 team members) can sign up now through Jan. 4. Entry fees are $75 for business teams, $50 for nonprofit teams and $25 for individual entries.
“Anyone in the community can form a team, enter the cook-off and take part in a spirited competition,” said Cecilia Murray, executive director of the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce, which holds the event each year.
As part of their entry, teams will receive an 8-by-10-foot booth, which they are required to decorate. In addition to their chili, teams are judged for having the best booth and the best theme. Many teams dress in costume or conduct small skits for the judges.
“When the judges arrive, they blind-sample the chili and pick their choice,” Murray explained. “The judges then walk around to each booth and the teams perform, which the people in the audience get to watch, as well. Some of (the skits) get to be very elaborate.”
Audience members also help pick the winners with their dollars. During the event, the entry with the most support will receive the People’s Choice Award.
Teams can cook any style of chili they wish, but all entries must be up to current health codes. Teams must cook their chili at the event, and booths are inspected by the Pulaski County Health Department.
“Teams have to make (their chili) on site,” Murray said. “We have the health department come that morning, and each booth is inspected before they are allowed to cook. Teams have to get there at about 6:30 in the morning to fix their chili. Everything has to be up to code to make sure everybody is safe.”
For an additional $15, teams that pre-register can pick their booth’s location.
It’s a good idea to register soon: Teams that fail to register by the Jan. 4 deadline will be required to pay late fees, which are an additional $100 for business entries, $75 for non-profit teams and $50 for individual entries.
Official entry forms and contest rules and regulations are available on the chamber’s official website, www.waynesville-strobertchamber.com.
For more information about the Polar Meltdown Chili Cook-Off, contact the chamber office at 573.336.5121 or email the chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org.