SPEAKING OF FOOD: Chili Fest means fall has arrived

When I was growing up in Dothan, Ala., I knew fall had arrived when the date rolled around for the Annual Peanut Festival, which was our county fair. I couldn’t wait to ride the Ferris wheel and the Cortina Bob and munch on Polish sausages and hot boiled peanuts.
In Northeast Mississippi, I know fall is here when I make a trip to Pumpkin Patch Farms in Blue Mountain to get a half-dozen orange orbs for my front porch, and when the calendar says it’s time for Chili Fest in downtown Tupelo.
A record number of participants – 40 in all – will show their stuff at this year’s annual event, which is Friday. A lunch of chili from Bar-B-Q by Jim will be available for $5 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and John Milstead will provide live music
Dinner will cost $10 and also include chili tastings for each team beginning at 5 p.m. Rooster Blues will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. followed by Kent Burnside at 8 p.m.
Awards will be presented at 10 p.m. for the best chili, voted on by both attendees and judges, as well as best team spirit, costumes and theme.
I really love to make chili – both red and white – this time of year. I could eat it at least once a week, and often do. Many of the recipes I use come from past Chili Fest winners.
One of our favorites is from BancorpSouth team members in 2005. They won the award for Tupelo’s Best Chili that year. Their recipe calls for ground beef, but I usually use ground turkey if my non-beef-eating daughter is going to be dining with us.
For more info on Chili Fest, call (662) 841-6598 or visit tupelomainstreet.com. For more info on Pumpkin Patch Farms, visit pumpkinpatchfarms.com or call (662) 685-4328.

Tupelo’s Best Chili 2005
2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cans Hunt’s special tomatoes with spices
2 cans Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chilies
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chili beans
2 cans tomato sauce
1 packet chili seasoning
1 jar sliced jalapeños (drain if you don’t want super hot chili)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with onions and bell pepper. Drain excess grease. Then add remaining ingredients one at a time. Simmer over very low heat for 2 hours, then cool. Reheat on low for 2 hours so the spices will blend with the sauce.
Serves 8 to 10.
(BancorpSouth Bank team members in 2005 were Dani Maddox, Britni Beasley, Tracy Boone and Jenny Haynes.)

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal