Last Saturday morning was a bit cold, but as soon as the chili tasting began at 11:00am, things warmed up quite a bit.
The 34th Annual Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-Off drew record crowds to the rail-side festival grounds on Salem Avenue in downtown Roanoke. The cook-off is the main fundraiser for the Greenvale School, where the majority of students attend on a scholarship.
Winner of the “Best Booth Award” went to the Country Store for their mock-up of a real store. Winner of the “People’s Choice Award” was the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group, who are repeat winners. The winner of the jalapeno pepper eating contest was simply known as “John,” who said he is a five time champion, this year downing 17 large jalapenos. All of these winners were presented with a large red and gold trophy.
The three officially judged competitions were in salsa, chili verde and red chili. Winners of these three groups are entitled to represent Virginia in October at the International Chili Society’s World’s Champion Chili Cook-Off in Palm Springs, CA. The first place winner of salsa was Jennifer Violette, first place in chili verde was Joe Harter and first place in red chili was Mark Reed.
There were 28 chili booths this year, as well as craft and informational booths. You could even skip the sampling altogether and buy a bowl of Greenvale chili for $5.00, then sit and watch the crowd.
– Carla Bream
Carla M. Bream