Mouths were watering last Sunday during the 5th Annual Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook Off. Hosted by the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce each year, the Chili Cook Off brings the community together at Point Park Marketplace to kick off the beginning of fall in downtown Parkersburg.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, the event was moved to Sunday with the hopes of better weather – a risky, but ultimately smart decision on behalf of the event organizers. Chili-lovers flocked to the marketplace to soak up some sunshine, listen to live music, and treat their taste buds.
Attendees feasted on over 35 types of chili – traditional, non traditional, and vegetarian. Local individuals, not-for-profits, restaurants and businesses participated, preparing large vats of their favorite recipes for the masses to sample. With no constraints on the types of chili that can be entered, chili-chefs were creative with their ingredients, proudly entering vegetarian, green, spicy, beans only, white and meat-lovers chili in addition to the familiar ‘red’ chili with beans and ground beef.
There is a healthy – and spicy- level of competition between entrants. Bragging rights are awarded to the top three in each category, with the First Place winners also taking home a cash prize of $200. This year, Shorty’s Pizzeria took home first place in the Traditional Category, with the Junior League of Parkersburg winning under Non-Traditional and The Willows taking home gold for Vegetarian.
The competition is hardly the heart of this event, however – it’s all about the community. It’s an opportunity for individuals and businesses to have some fun in the kitchen and share their enthusiasm with fellow chili connoisseurs.
Erin Iafelice, Marketing Director at Pickering Associates, has entered her New Orleans inspired chili two years in a row – this year’s concoction was dubbed Mardi Gras Mayhem. “We wouldn’t miss an opportunity to support our local chamber of commerce. Besides being a great event, the chili cook-off gives us an excellent opportunity to interact with the community. Pickering Associates is a Mid-Ohio Valley company; we work here and live here. We do, and will continue to do, everything we can to see this area grow.”