TUPELO – Last year’s cold, misty weather drew hundreds of folks to eat lunch at the 11th annual Chili Fest. This year’s warm, sunny skies did the same.
Thursday’s event also drew 32 teams to the downtown area to compete for 10 prizes and bragging rights to the best chili in town.
“This is our first year to participate,” said Jed Duke of Park Heights Restaurant. He made that team’s Silver Spoon Chili using vegetables cooked in smoked olive oil and ground beef tenderloin.
“At the last minute, I mixed in a little andouille sausage,” Duke said. “Being from the south Mississippi and Louisiana area, I had to put some andouille sausage in. We tried it last night and, boy, it’s good.”
From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., festival-goers dined on chili from Jim Beane’s Bar-B-Q by Jim and listened to music from John Milstead. From 5 to 10 p.m., Beane served chili again but folks also got to sample the different recipes from the 32 teams who competed. Mr. Lucky and Ironwood Bluff provided the evening’s entertainment.
Nautical Whimsey Italian Bistro amp& Wine Bar, which will open in the old Bistro building in downtown Tupelo on Oct. 27, was also a first-time participant.
“Advertising was the thing that brought us here,” said owner Amanda Knuckles. “We wanted to let people try our Italian chili because that’s going to be on our menu.”
Knuckles’ chili is made with a Chardonnay-laced marinara, Italian spices and Italian sausage. Her team was called the Hot Momma Mias.
The GumTree Museum of Art team was back for the first time since 2002.
“This is my first year here. I just took over in August,” said Kit Stafford, the museum’s new director. “I just think this is a great way to get involved in the community, and make our museum visible to the community.”
Stafford said Bubba Nash was in charge of making chili for her team, Artsy Pharsty.
“It’s a white chili and you get to paint your own,” Stafford said. “We’ll have food coloring and people can dye their chili whatever color they want. We’ll have everything from lime green to hot pink!”
• Crowd Favorite (People’s Choice): Bel-Air Golf Course
• Make Ya Wanna Slap Your Mama Good! (1st Place): Tupelo Parks and Recreation
• Better Luck Next Year (2nd Place): Budweiser/Romie’s Grocery
• Serve It Up Right (Best Presentation): Park Heights
• Everything but the Kitchen Sink (Most Original Recipe): Tupelo Unitarian Universalist
• Mystifying Oomph (Most Unique Taste): Nautical Whimsy Italian Bistro
• Rowdiest Cooks! (Best Team Spirit): Tupelo Parks and Recreation
• Sauciest Get-Up! (Best Costumes): GumTree Museum of Art
• Most ‘Souped’ Up Kitchen (Most Creative Tent): Business Network International
• Supreme Scheme (Most Original Theme): The McCarty Company
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal