Summertime and the living is chili
2008 is biggest Chili Fest ever at Pat’s Peak
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
The Henniker Rotary Club will hold its annual Chili Fest on Sunday, Aug. 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Pat’s Peak Ski area. This year’s event will be the largest ever.
“It’s a great event and it keeps growing,” said Rotary member Ruth Zax. “We have, as of right now, 48 chili makers participating.”
The chili contest has two divisions: restaurant and individual. So far, 19 restaurants have registered for the cook-off, up from 12 last year. The list includes last year’s winner, Que Pasa of Henniker, as well as Peter Christian’s Tavern of New London, Granite Restaurant of Concord, and Tooky Mills of Hillsboro.
The individual category is composed of community groups, families and individuals. Returning champs After Burn from Mile-Away Camp Ground in Henniker will compete against 28 other individual entrants for the title of best chili. Participants in this category like to come up with unique entry names. For example, Melissa and Kevin Skarupa (WMUR-TV meteorologist) named their group Chili Today, Hot Tamale. Another entrant is called We Moose Eat Chili.
Winners in each category are chosen by the public. Individual category first-, second-, and third-place winners receive prizes that range from $300 to $500. A small panel of judges will vote on the best presentation in each category. They will consider a contestant’s table decoration and how the chili is served.
Last year the event brought in 1,100 attendees and the Rotary expects 1,500 this year with the increase in cook-off participants.
“People have a really good time and keep coming back,” Zax said, “Last year there were people from about 40 different communities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, plus visitors from around the country. We expect to have enough chili this year for everyone to have about 20 ounces each.”
There will also be a hot dog and hamburger barbecue, which is included in the admission price. Beverages cost extra. There will be a beer tent, and the Rotary will offer beer steins for $5 that includes the first fill-up.
Besides food, the event will feature a classic car show (weather permitting) and south-of-the-border themed vendors who will offer sauces and other chili-related items for sale. Classic rock tunes will be provided by radio station The Mill, 96.5 FM. Kids’ activities include face painting and a giant slide, and award-winning children’s entertainer Judy Pancoast will perform at 2 p.m.
Zax said, “It’s like a festival atmosphere. It’s very laid back because it is on the mountain. There are tents for people to sit in and enjoy their food, but some folks like to sit on the mountain side or hike up it with their kids.”
Admission is $10 per person, $5 for kids under 10. Last year the event raised $15,000. “The proceeds go to the Henniker Rotary Club and we spend the rest of the year giving it away,” Zax said. “This is our largest fundraiser, and last year we gave out $28,000 from all of our fundraisers for scholarships and to community groups like White Birch Community Center, the food pantry, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We also support international projects like flood and tornado relief, and Polio Plus, a project supported by Rotary International with the goal to eradicate polio in the world within the next 10 years. We also give money to a water project that provides pure water to Third World countries.”
The Henniker Chili Fest happens rain or shine, and one admission price covers everything except beverages and vendors’ items. Gates open at 1 p.m., and judging will go until 3:30 p.m. The winners will be announced at 4 p.m. For a complete schedule of the day’s events, visit the festival Web site, www.chilinewhampshire.org.”