By C.V. Moore
OAK HILL —
Something spicy is cooking in Fayette County. In the upcoming weeks and months, the county plays host to two chili cookoffs that are now inviting participation by chili cooks from the region, state and beyond.
The Oak Leaf Festival’s 10th annual Chili Cookoff is the earlier of the two. It’s set for Sept. 1 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fayette Institute of Technology in Oak Hill.
In the Oak Leaf Festival lineup, it’s sandwiched between a car show and a fireworks display at night.
“If you think your chili is good, I encourage you to come on out and give it a try,” says cookoff chair Lesley Taylor. “It’s a lot of fun, and you never know, you may find it's something you like and want to pursue even further.”
The best aspect of participating, she says, is the fellowship with other cooks.
Taylor says she wants to see the event grow.
“I would like to see even more cooks come out,” she said.
A $5 entry fee includes table setup and power supply, if needed. Cooks must supply small tasting bowls, cups, or plastic spoons.
They are permitted to sell drinks, snacks, baked goods, and other foods at their table.
Between 10-15 gallons of chili should be prepared at home and at least one team member must have a food handler’s license.
Cash prizes will be awarded for best-tasting chili in both individual and business categories. People’s Choice and Queen’s Choice awards will also be presented. Finally, the best-decorated booth for the theme “Happy 150th Birthday, West Virginia” will receive a prize.
Judging criteria include consistency, aroma, taste, and aftertaste.
No particular style of chili is preferred.
The deadline for entry is Aug. 28 and forms can be obtained by calling Taylor at 304-382-1421.
Taylor says that last year between 15 and 20 cooks participated in the well-attended event, herself included.
“The first chili cookoff I ever entered was at the Oak Leaf Festival,” she said. “I didn't know what to expect, but I loved it.”
Taylor won first place at last year’s Bridge Day Chili Cookoff, the second chili-centric contest in Fayette County that’s looking for competitors.
The Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau's annual Bridge Day Chili Cookoff will be held this year on Oct. 19 in downtown Fayetteville.
Several categories and styles of chili will be represented. An entry form and more information can be obtained by calling Sally Kiner at 304-574-1500.