TUPELO – A blowing wind and light mist of rain just might have helped the numbers at Chili Fest, where people waited in long lines Friday for a hot lunch.
The 10th annual event drew a record 38 teams to the downtown area to compete for 10 prizes and bragging rights to the best chili in town.
“Not only did we have a record number of teams, but we also had a record number of new participants,” said Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.
Window World of Tupelo was a first-time participant, and Phillip Orrick, the chief cook for his team, proclaimed his chili to be the festival’s finest.
“It’s a New Orleans-style recipe I invented myself,” said Orrick. “It’s the kind of chili you don’t want to make in one big batch – you don’t double or triple the recipe. I made it here in five pots.”
From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., festival-goers dined on chili from Bar-B-Q by Jim and listened to music from John Milstead. From 5 to 10 p.m., Jim served chili again but folks also got to sample the different recipes from the 38 teams who competed. Kent Burnside provided the evening’s entertainment.
“We wanted some regional music – music you normally wouldn’t hear in Tupelo,” said Shipman Sloan, co-chairman of the Chili Fest. “We wanted to try to connect with the younger citizens in Tupelo, the people who have moved back here after college. Our goal for this year and years forward is to max out Broadway and maybe move to Fairpark. We just want to get as big as we can.”
Allie West, program associate for the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association, said organizers were prepared to feed at least 1,000 people.
“We think we’ll hit that number easily,” she said Friday afternoon. “We’ve already got a good crowd now.”
Contact Ginna Parsons at (662) 678-1581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal