SOUTH FORK- Hundreds of people gathered at the South Fork Community Center Thursday, Oct. 17, for the town’s annual Chili Cookoff and the night ended in spicy success. Residents, guests and hunters gathered around long tables to share community friendship and delicious homemade chili and salsa, all of which were made by local businesses, organizations and residents.
The event began several years ago as a way to bring a new event to the slow season in South fork and has grown from a measly two to three chili contestants to a staggering 11 contestants and hundreds of diners enjoying delicious homemade chili and salsa.
Contestants of the contest showed up around 4 p.m. to begin decorating tables and to set up their entries for the evening. The theme for this year’s event was a fall setting and contestants pulled out all the stops. Tables were laden with fall colored leaves, sparkling tablecloths, aspen trees that had changed into their fall colors with an ode to the town and all it had to offer in outdoor recreation with sleds, skis, fishing poles and more. The night was off to a great start as people began to pile through the door for their chance to taste either green or red chili and salsa.
There were 11 contestants participating in the cook off this year. Chefs from Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, Rio Grande Club and Resort and Rachael’s Keep On Keepin’ On were all in attendance as well as local residents out to vie for the top spot in the chili and salsa contest. According to several of the guests in attendance, this year was one of the highest attended events with well over 250 people coming to taste and vote on their favorite entries.
Representatives from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) were in attendance to answer questions and give tips and tricks to any visiting hunters in the area. They provided pamphlets and hunting brochures to anyone needing additional information before heading out to hunt in the area. The CPW representatives were seen participating in the tasting part of the contest, casting their votes and mingling with the crowd.
Several of the town staff and board members were also present, talking with residents and guests while partaking in the contest. The Chapel of South Fork was busy in the kitchen, handing out hotdogs and sweet treats to raise money for next year’s cook off. It was a night to remember!
By the end of the night, South Fork Visitor Center director Mark Teders tallied up the votes and the winners are as follows, first place in the Red Chili category went to Rio Grande Club and Resort with second place going to the South Fork Church of Christ. Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant took first place in the green chili category and second place went to the Rio Grande Club and Resort. For the salsa category, first place went to Friends of South Fork, second place went to Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant and third place went to South Fork Fire and Rescue.
An award was given to the Friends of South Fork for their table decoration. “The town would like to thank all who came out to attend and participate this year,” said Teders.
Next up for South Fork will be the annual Yuletide tree lighting and community event at the beginning of December.