But there were many other competitors who were open for business for everyone else, and there were plenty of colorful monikers:
Before you go ‘Ewwww…squirrel!’, there was no actual squirrel in the chili. Unfortunately, there was no chili, either, as you can see by the empty pot. We ran into a number of competitors that just flat ran out due to the sheer number of tasters. In some ways, the Chili & Salsa Cook Off has become a victim of its own success. The event has become so popular that unless you get there early enough, you’re going to miss out on tasting some of the entries. I found some of the chili entries to be kind of bland and watery, and I wonder if people were trying to stretch out their supplies to meet the demand.
…the Rat Rock Red, brought to you by WRAT (95.9FM on your dial). Yes – the chili made by a rock radio station was the best that we tasted. Lisa found their chili to be rich, meaty and tomato-ey with a nice amount of spice.
…Gunny Mike’s Devil Dog Chili. This was also a thick and meaty chili with a nice tomato flavor. Not as hot as the Rat Rock Red, but there was enough spice to keep it interesting.
Yes – that is in fact a toilet. And yes, they really did serve your portion right out of the, erm, bowl. To say that it was a little disconcerting to want to eat chili served this way would be understating it; it was very disconcerting. And then you start to wonder what goes on in the mind of a person who wants to serve their chili this way. Well, it certainly did draw attention. And, once your mind got over the fact that what you’re about to eat came from a…y’know…the chili was actually good. It was a good, meaty and chunky chili – and that’s where I’ll leave it.
Overall, the Chili & Salsa Cook Off is still a fun event to attend. The competitors are into it – they’re happy to chat with you, hope that you enjoy their wares, and give a hoot ‘n holler (or a cowbell, or even a bullhorn) when someone votes for them. If you’re willing to deal with lines, because you will be standing in a number of them as you move from booth to booth, then you’ll enjoy yourself. Just make sure you know from what vessel they’re serving the chili.