Chili Cook-off brings in big crowds despite new location

The 25th Annual Chili Cook-Off hosted by the American Cancer Society was a big hit Saturday at the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds.

Organizers suspect an upwards of some 25,000 people showed up for the event, and it was all to help support the fight against cancer.
“It’s for a good cause,” said Eric Starkey, one of the competing chili chefs in the cook-off, “everything we do here, all the money goes toward fighting cancer, so that’s why we do it.”

For the last 24 years, the Chili Cook-off was held downtown, but this year it was moved to the Fairgrounds so teams would have more space to compete.

“Year after year the teams have wanted more space to cook and they wanted to be able to cook longer,” said Tara Henley, a spokesperson for the Chili Cook-off, “and, year after year we’ve thought about it, and this just seemed like the best solution.”

Organizers say some 80 teams signed up to compete in the cook-off this year.

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