Spicy, sweet, savory, homestyle, meaty or vegetarian – these are all types of chili those attending the 24th Annual Kissimmee Sunshine Regional Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Festival can sample today, Feb. 22.
After eating chili, wash it down with craft beer samples. For just $5, you can try seven different chilis and pay $25 for eight beer samples.
“We get local and other competitors from all over. They are very serious about competing like an athlete,” said Elizabeth Harris, Kissimmee’s director of parks and recreation. “It’s one of our tastiest festivals.” The festival will be from noon to 5 p.m.
The cook-off is a competition sanctioned by the International Chili Society and offers cooks the opportunity to win prizes. They can also qualify for the group’s national competition. Attendees can help decide who wins the People’s Choice Award, plus $500 when voting for their favorite chili. There will be dozens of competition quality chili to choose from.
Vickie Marnick, with the International Chili Society, said these cooks take chili very seriously.
“There is always someone who says, ‘I can make a better bowl than you can,’” she added. And that’s why chili competitions are so popular. “It’s a big deal to these cooks. It’s one big family.”
Along with sampling chili and craft beers, the family-friendly event also includes a kids’ zone, craft vendors and live music. This year’s entertainment will be provided by the bands, Pirate Flag and Juno Smile. Pirate Flag, based out of Clearwater, is a tribute to Kenny Chesney and Juno Smile plays original music and covers.
Harris said they are expecting 3,000 to 4,000 people at Kissimmee Lakefront Park. Many events are held at the park and each one has been a success.
“There is something for everyone,” Harris said. “It’s nice to be outside, it’s fun and the view is so nice of the lake.”
As far as chili, Harris is happy things are getting spiced up in town.
“It’s everything chili and spicy in Kissimmee. Add some spice in your life,” she said.
Admission and parking are free and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite or at the event. Purchase tickets for craft beer ahead of time and only pay $15.