No Holds Barred Chili Cook-Off: Let the Flames Begin

Next Saturday, October 17, the normally bucolic grounds of Shady Tavern will be invaded by the heat-seekers and flame-throwers at the No Holds Barred Chili Cook-Off. Now in its third year, the young but increasingly popular chili cook-off will feature between 25 and 30 teams, all of whom are invited to -- as the name implies -- cook up whatever kind of chili cocks their pistols.

Chilis will be judged by both popular vote and a panel of judges (full disclosure: I was one of the judges last year despite having salmonellosis at the time, and will be happily repeating those duties this year sans food poisoning), who will vote on Spiciest Chili, Most Original Chili and Overall Winner. Last year's champions, the Chili Kings (don't let their name fool you -- they're mostly women) will be defending their title not only from 2008, but from 2007 as well.

The entry fee to the cook-off is $5, which includes unlimited chili tasting. Plenty of ice cold beer will also be on hand to quench the fires from the spicier chilis and a portion of the beer sales will go to benefit Young Professionals for Children. And like last year, this year's cook-off will also be held during the Red River Shootout, so you can be sure to catch the big game on one of Shady Tavern's many TVs while you're chowing down.

Be sure to stick around after the cook-off for plenty of live music -- last year's musical guest was the omnipresent and always awesome Zydeco Dots -- and revelry. There will be plenty of chili to polish off, and there are worse ways to spend a gorgeous fall afternoon than with a beer and a bowl of meat under some shade trees.

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Katharine Shilcutt