The heat is on for Lakeside’s 40th annual Chili Cookoff that comes to a boil Friday, February 23 through Sunday, February 25 at Tobolandia Water Park, located on the Chapala-Ajijic highway just west of the Libramiento intersection.
Gates open daily, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with ample on-site parking.
The giant three-day happening is a charity fund-raiser encompassing four separate culinary contests. Friday’s schedule features the side-by-side margarita mixing and salsa competitions, with potent samples ready for tasting at 12:30 p.m. in the food court. The all-American comfort food chili-con-carne, and vegetarian or vegan versions, will be on the table Saturday and Sunday, same time, same place.
With the registration deadline now looming, Cookoff organizers report that a few openings are still available among the ten spaces allotted for each of the foodie dust-ups. Consult http://mexicannationalchilicookoff.com to read full competition rules and sign up.
Daily champions will be selected by a panel of three judges, with cash prizes of 1,000, 750 and 500 pesos awarded for first, second and third place standing respectively. A People’s Choice trophy goes to the entry gaining the most votes from the public acquiring taster kits.
Multiple attractions keep the fairgrounds jumping throughout the day. Continuous live entertainment, broken up by hourly drawings for hundreds of raffle prizes, takes place at center stage. Food stalls set up around the seating area offer grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, BBQ ribs and other treats. Beverage stands at different points are stocked with ice cold beer, soft drinks and bar supplies.
The outer ring is set up as a sprawling market place where dozens of vendors entice shoppers with a vast array of arts and crafts, clothing, jewelry, household goods and professional services.
The Cookoff is much more than a great place to kick back with old friends and new acquaintances. It is lakeside oldest and largest benefit for well-established charitable causes, with a record of generating hundreds of thousands of pesos through its four-decade history.
This year’s proceeds will be split up between the Casa de Ancianos de Chapala, Cedejo Family Development Center, Cruz Roja de Chapala, Lake Chapala Shrine Club, Los Niños de Chapala y Ajijic, Love in Action Children’s Home, Programa Pro Niños Incapacitados del Lago, and the School for Special Needs Children. Individual profiles and Internet links for each of these non-profit groups are found on the Cookoff website.
The success of the Chili Cook-Off hinges on the efforts of numerous volunteers, the generous support of local businesses large and small, and all the 5,000 people who pitch in by attending and opening their wallets.
Anyone with the spare time, hands and hearts to help it all run seamlessly is encouraged to call volunteer coordinators Sandy at 766-6329 or Carol at 766-3167.