Would you like to enter your killer chili in a 2022 cookoff? Which cookoff should you enter?
Here I cover the upcoming chili cookoffs in the Front Range and give you details, pros and cons, and specific things to watch out for with each cookoff. And you can tell which are my favorites.
Is it comprehensive and accurate? Nope. But you can tell which I’m experienced with and I do my very best to give genuine, helpful suggestions.
This is organized by date (just like the event dates page) and links to detailed rules & regulations pages are provided where possible. Always read the cookoff rules before entering!
Happy Cooking … and Good Luck!
Sept 10 – bigchili.org
I’ve worked this festival & have friends who’ve entered the chili cookoff. It gets about 3,000 attendees. It is open from 10am to 5pm. Chili tasting goes from 10 to 3 when voting closes. The public is sampling and voting. There are 3 different categories of chilis.
When a friend of mine competed, she was shocked at how much it cost her – over $800 for ingredients. I don’t remember how many categories she entered but I think it was just one. They require 10 gallons for each chili to supply enough of the public with tastes. That’s a lot. Plus there are entry fees. Also it is very competitive. I’m guessing they have at least a dozen competitors per category. Some categories are more competitive than others.
I often volunteer for this festival. I think it’s a great festival overall, it’s well run and for a good cause. It supports the firefighters and we’re in a high fire risk area. If you’re not ready to enter this cook-off, you might want to attend or volunteer and check it out for next year’s cookoff.
So the warning here is to be careful to read the rules carefully and make sure you know what you’re getting into beforehand. Read the rules very carefully here. Note you must cook your chili on-site, and your cooking station will be inspected to ensure it follows all rules (or you’ll be disqualified). Plus the deadlines for entry are approaching. Take a look at the list of winners here.
I have not been to this one, but it is much smaller and has fewer rules. It only requires 2-5 gallons of chili, which can be prepared at home. In a nutshell, this looks smaller and easier to tackle than the Evergreen festival. I’d guess the odds of winning are higher. Could be fun.
Sept 17 – Superior Chili Fest
This is a free festival that gets 4000 attendees. It has 2 chili cookoffs: the ICS sanctioned cookoff (3 categories: green chili, red chili, and homestyle (with beans)) and the People’s Choice cookoff (only open to restaurants, food vendors, and organizations).
Are you a member of ICS? (International Chili Society) – This is for very serious chili cookoff competitors. The winner goes to the World Championship Chili Cookoff in Myrtle Beach, SC on Sept 5. I’ve been judging these for years. You must be a member of ICS to compete and there are strict rules to adhere to. See https://chilicookoff.com/ for the rules.
BTW, I’m judging the red chili ICS competition this year. The judging team for the green got filled up very early (I usually judge green). If you haven’t ever competed in an ICS competition, I suggest signing up as a judge. That way you’ll learn how they run it and you’ll get a good idea of the type of chili that wins (yes, there are characteristics they favor.). They require judges to go through a training session before the judging. I really like these – very well run and the quality of entries is very high.
This is just the second year for this one and it looks like they’re still getting their act together. No details yet – just this: ” More details to follow. Contact Laura at 406-403-1480 for questions or to sign up.”
This is the cookoff (3 categories: red chili, green chili, and salsa – $500 prize for each winner) for the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival. I’ve been to the festival but not the cookoff. Personally I stay away from it because it’s down in Pueblo 2 hours south of Denver. Plus it’s a mob scene – 150,000 attendees over 3 days.
I’ve worked at this one. It’s in a small park and gets jam packed – the unlimited beer/alcohol samples are a big draw.
The Chili Cookoff Rules are strict and detailed – you have to provide your own tent, tables, cooking equipment (no electricity) and cook on-site. Read the rules first – all 3 pages of them. And you have to make 10 gallons. It appears much less competitive than the Evergreen festival, though. Note this whole event is only 3 hours long.