18th Annual Chili Fest Oct. 13 in downtown Tupelo
TUPELO – Some people might find Friday the 13th unlucky, but the folks at Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association are hoping the day brings a crowd to the 18th Annual Chili Fest in October.
Held on Broadway between Main and Troy streets, the one-day festival offers lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with live acoustic entertainment. A $5 ticket will get you a bowl of Jim Beane’s chili with all the fixings and a drink.
That evening, the gates will open at 5 p.m. and there will again be live music. A $10 ticket gets you a bowl of chili and also allows you to taste the different chilies prepared by the teams who are competing.
“This event has grown just about every year,” said Craig Helmuth, program manager for DTMSA. “Like everything else in 2009 and 2010, the numbers fell off a bit, but now we’ve picked back up.”
So far 10 teams have registered to compete, but the festival can handle up to 40. The registration fee is $40 if received by Friday and $50 after that up until Oct. 9 or as space is available. Each team must have at least four members. Applications can be found online at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the DTMSA office on Broadway.
“We’re expecting about 800 people to turn out for lunch and dinner,” Helmuth said. “The festival is so weather-dependent. It’s a rain-or-shine event.”
The teams who enter will compete for several awards. For the chili, that will be 1st Place, 2nd Place, Crowd Favorite, Best Presentation, Most Original Recipe and Most Unique Taste. Other awards include Best Team Spirit, Best Costumes, Most Creative Tent and Most Original Theme.
“We changed the layout on the street last year and that made it even better,” Helmuth said. “The new layout kind of gave it that street festival feel. We’re going to do that again.”
(Community Bank, 1st Place, 2016 Chili Fest)
8 ounces chopped bacon
3 large onions, chopped
20 pounds ground beef
2 (105-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans
1/2 gallon water
2 (105-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 gallon picante sauce or salsa
1 cup dark red chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/2 bottle hot sauce
1/2 cup liquid hickory seasoning
Saute the bacon and onions. Add ground beef and cook until all meat is thoroughly cooked. Skim some grease off, but not too much. That’s what makes it good. Drain the beans and add to the pot, along with the water. Add tomato sauce, picante, chili powder and cumin and stir. Add hot sauce and hickory seasoning. Bring to a simmer and let cook, the longer the better.
Note: This recipe was provided by Jon Paul Rhea at Community Bank in Tupelo.