Writer and editor Margaret Cousins once wrote, “Chili is not so much food as a state of mind. Addictions to it are formed early in life and the victims never recover. On blue days in October, I get this passionate yearning for a bowl of chili, and I nearly lose my mind.”
Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout organizers are betting the teams signed up will have something to satisfy everyone’s spicy craving.
“We’ll have at least 13 teams registered so it’s going to be a good competition,” said Shootout Coordinator Ammie Shupe. She stressed the Shootout’s salsa division is open to all and not just International Chili Society professionals. The entry fee for this division is $10 and participants may prepare their salsa before the shootout and bring it on competition day. The cornbread contest is free and also an open competition.
Tasting wristbands will be sold (at $5 a person) starting at 2 p.m. with chili tasting tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The shootout will be held behind the Historic Carroll County Courthouse and is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS). Local group “Stagecoach” will perform from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cast members from the play “Sidna Allen’s Dream,” (the third in a series of historical plays about the Carroll Courthouse Tragedy) will be on hand in costume and could even perform scenes from the production.
The contest includes four chili categories – homestyle, verde, salsa and traditional red (in the pro division). Other open chili categories for the public are People’s Choice and Judges’ Pick.
“We’re still working on adding some more activites for children, like pumpkin painting, ” Shupe said. “I’m glad to have the teams signed up. It’s down to getting the little things ready to finish up. We want to recognize our sponsors who stepped up to the plate. Everyone who donated, donated generously.”
Shupe praised the Shootout’s first stage sponsor, VFW Grover King Post 1115. She predicted chili samples would again go quickly, depending on the number of people sampling. Although ICS regulations only call for competitors to prepare a gallon of chili, organizers have encouraged competitors to make two gallons this year.
Judging comes back to a case of good product and good ICS process for Judges Coordinator Greg Talley. Tasting last year’s pint-sized quantities of capsaicin craftsmenship took an hour with a tie. Two judges were selected to re-taste the top two for the tie breaker.
“They did very well. No talking between each other is allowed and I was so proud of that whole bunch. The ICS really has a good process. It’s fair. Judges only see a team number,” Talley said. “The identification number is on the bottom of the cup and only the scorekeepers see this number afterwards when they tally the results.”
This year’s judges are Mayor Greg Crowder, Councilman David Young, Linda Crowder, The Arts & Cultural Council of the Twin Counties Executive Director Laura Romanowski and Wytheville Community College Dean of Health and Occupational Programs Jamie Edwards. Talley said he also hopes to have Jonathan McGrady serve as a reserve judge. LuAnn Crowder and Karen Castille will again serve as scorekeepers.
The cornhole tournament is slated to begin 45 minutes after the official Chili tasting (which is set for 4 p.m.). For more information on Historic Hillsville’s Chili Shootout, people may visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Historic-Hillsvilles-Chili-Shootout-1599001080375261/ or contact Ammie Shupe at 276-733-3062.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.