The 40th annual Mexican National Chili Cook-Off is set to blast off Friday, February 24 for a three day run at the Tobolandia Water Park that will feature a sizzling entertainment program, a massive cache of raffle prize give-aways, a giant shopper’s paradise and, of course, the culinary contests at the heart of lakeside’s rootin-tootin charity happening.
Gates to the grounds open from 11 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. General admission is priced at 50 pesos, with free entry for children under age 12. Secure on-site parking costs 30 pesos per vehicle.
Friday’s entertainment line-up opens with the Exotic Harem Dancers at 11:15, followed in close succession by Chapala’s Redes y Cantos Chorus, the Crooners, Thomas Banks and the Soul Investors and Grupo Neiwama.
Sampling of Margarita and Salsa contest entries and People’s Choice voting will be held in the cooks’ tents starting at 12:30. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m.
Saturday activities kick off with the rollicking Chili Cookoff parade, rolling out from the Ajijic Malecón at 10:30 a.m., to snake through town via Pedro Moreno, Ocampo-Constitución, Encarnación Rosas and run along the Carretera for arrival at the Tobolandia area calculated at noon. The Orquesta Tipica de Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos will perform at 11 a.m., preceding the official opening ceremony and ribbon cutting set for 12:30 p.m. Chili competition and tasting begins at 1 p.m., with the winner’s circle at 4 p.m. Other Mexican showtime highlights include a live Mariachi band and the Aztec Dancers from San Juan Cosalá.
Sunday’s on-stage program showcases singer-guitarist Daniel Cordero at 11:15, continuing with the Ballet Folclórico del Ayuntamiento de Chapala, Sol y Luna, Traficante del Ritmo and Los Astronautas. The final Chili contest starts at 12:15 p.m., with winners named at 4 p.m.
With over 300 prizes up for grabs over the weekend, hourly raffle ticket drawings are scheduled daily at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m., with the winning number for each day’s Grand Prize to be pulled at 4:15 p.m. The cornucopia of goodies includes original art, health and beauty vouchers, golf packages, hotel stays and more than 100 restaurant meals.
This year’s cookoff crowd can occupy spare time roaming through more than 100 exhibitor and vendor booths distributed around the fair grounds. Of particular interest to local retirees will be the display put up by the Quality Care Group from Guadalajara that has come aboard as a new corporate sponsor.
Don’t forget that all proceeds from the cookoff help sustain eight of the area’s most outstanding charitable causes.