It was nice to have this event back on the street in the Arlington Village neighborhood of Riverside after a three-year absence.  This is a nice time of year in the Southern California inland valleys.  The overcast that we call “May Gray” made for nearly perfect chili cookoff weather.

The overall event with which the cookoff is associated is as spectacular as ever.  Magnolia Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares in Riverside, is closed down for about a mile to accommodate all of the activities.  These include a large car and motorcycle show, a kid zone, a craft fair in which a percentage of the merchandise must be handcrafted, food vendors, entertainment on two stages and, of course, the chili cookoff. 

There are two divisions in the chili cookoff, ICS cooks and local cooks.  Prize money in both divisions is excellent, totaling over $8,500.00.  Local chili contestants enter one of three categories:  Celebrities (elected officials or those running for an office), Restaurants, or Community Cooks (everybody else).  They are judged by the public who vote for their favorites in each category.  There were a total of 13 local competitors, who are required to bring a minimum of 12 gallons of chili each.  There is a separate salsa contest for local contestants; the winners are determined by the same people who judge the ICS contests.  ICS cooks compete for Traditional Red Chili, Chili Verde and Salsa, as well as People’s Choice Chili separately from the local contestants.

The Arlington Business Partnership, a nonprofit entity, hosts the event.  The purpose of the day is to bring positive awareness to the ArlingtonVillage neighborhood.  It certainly succeeds in doing that.  Public attendance this year was estimated at 45,000!

Steve Porter, Chief Judge of the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff, officiated as Chief Judge.  Scorekeepers were Karen Ray, Bill Ray and Ellen Dyer.  Tim Green was the all-important wrangler and filled in with many other tasks, as well.  At the end of a long and very busy day, the winners were:

Salsa (10 entries):

3rd             Dione Cooley              $  75.00

2nd       Irene Menchaca          $150.00

1st        Barbara Ward             $300.00

Chili Verde (11 entries):

5th        Barbara Ward             Plaque

4th        Jan Brown                   Plaque

3rd        Jim Latendresse          $150.00

2nd       Mike Ford                   $250.00

1st        Marian Donato           $500.00

People’s Choice Chili (Everybody):

3rd        Steve Crawford           Plaque

2nd       Clark McGee              Plaque

1st        Marian Donato           $   250.00

Traditional Red Chili (20 entries):

5th        Marvin Steinberg       Plaque

4th        Eileen Beaty               Plaque

3rd        Skip Cooley                $   250.00

2nd       Steve Crawford           $   500.00

1st        Jim Beaty                    $1,000.00

            This will be Jim’s 30th time to compete in the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff.  I’m pretty sure that makes him the Grandest Master Cook of all!



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