Nothing can stop the roar of the Harley Davidson motorcycles to start the annual Virginia chili cook-off. Every time the engines rev, more chili is ready to be tasted.
The annual event brought close to 10,000 people to the Railside Plaza on Salem Avenue in downtown Roanoke last weekend. The cook-off is sanctioned by the International Chili Society and the winning team receives $1,000 and has the right to represent Virginia at the World Championship Chili Cook-Off in Las Vegas or Omaha each year.
All proceeds benefit the sponsor, Greenvale School, with tuition assistance and scholarships. Greenvale provides high quality, developmentally appropriate child care services for children of working parents, according to each family’s ability to pay. Typically this festival raises $30,000 in net proceeds.
The chili cook-off is a family affair with activities including a free Children’s Zone staffed by Greenvale teachers. In addition to the 30 or so chili cooking teams, there was also a beer garden, a music stage, a jalapeno pepper eating contest and many craft vendors.
All attendees got a chance to sample the various chili recipes and vote for their favorite team, which wins the People’s Choice Award. The winner this year was the Q99 Breakfast Club Team. The overall Best Red Chili Team winner, as judged by 60 chili tasting judges, was the “Cowgirl Chili” team from Palmyra VA.
Story & Photos by Carla M. Bream