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Simsbury Chili Challenge Returns For Third Year

The Simsbury Chamber of Commerce is expecting 3,000 people to attend the third annual chili challenge, on Oct. 28 at the Simsbury Performing Arts Center.

Lisa Gray, the chamber's executive director, said the first two years of theevent have been successful for how it checks all the right boxes for an October event.

"It's perfect timing for a chili challenge," Gray said. "The weather is starting to cool and other events are winding down. This one is a great outdoor event to come to with the family and celebrate Halloween and the start of fall and warm up with chili. It's a lot of fun for families."

To feed all those hungry guests, Gray said they expect 19 competing amateur chili cooks to go along with 16 participating restaurants. They ran out of food the first year because of the limited supplies of the amateur cooks, but adding restaurants last year fixed that problem.

Among the restaurants are Abigail's Grille and Wine Bar, The North House, Plan B, and Attilio's.

The event, which is sanctioned by the International Chili Society, features amateur competitors who travel to be part of these challenges. Last year's winners were from states that included Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New York.

New this year is a planned junior chili challenge, featuring young cooks. Gray said that roster includes a 10-year-old Simsbury boy who she said is excited to show off his food.

"The International Chili Society does a lot of junior events," Gray said. "It's a way for them to keep young blood coming into the organization. Like so many organizations, their membership is aging. We decided to add it to our competition because we are such a family oriented community."

Also added this year is touch-a-truck and a classic car show. Classic cars showed up the first two years, Gray said, but this is the first time they've advertised their participation ahead of time. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Shaded Soul Band, Jake Kulak and the Low Down, and Still Kickin' and the Big City Horns.

Gray is excited to see months of planning come together for that one day.

"It takes months and months and many hours of planning," Gray said. "It can be very stressful in the weeks leading up. Seeing it all come together as such a tremendous event is very gratifying for me."

With all that's included in the day, Gray said her favorite part is always what the event is all about: chili.

"My favorite part is probably the same as everybody else, the chili," Gray said. "We have so many fantastic cooks. I enjoy trying them for sure."

Tickets are on sale now and cost $10 for those ages 11 and up. Children 10 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased online at simsburychili.com. Vendor opportunities are still available, too. The chili challenge will be held Oct. 28, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Simsbury Performing Arts Center.

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