What can I say…if you missed it you really missed out!


As I stated in my previous blog this isn’t your run of the mill chili cook-off.  This is more like a big happy family reunion, high school reunion and picnic with friends all rolled up into one.  With live entertainment, 60+ teams competing for top honors in chili, salsa and beer there was more than enough food, drink and socializing to go around.  And unlike most food related events you didn’t just taste


One of the great things about this event is that it highlights how community oriented Petaluma is.  With local restaurants, individuals, business and service organizations all competing against each other there is a true sense of camaraderie even though each team was attempting to best their neighbor.  Everyone seemed to know everyone else and if it was your first year you ended up leaving with new friends and unique experiences to talk about.


This year’s event was more colorful, more energetic and more memorable than ever.  Teams decorated their booths and dressed up in costumes all in the spirit of competition.  In front of each table was the all important ballot bucket and even before your voting ticket had cleared the rim your favorite chili, salsa or beer servers were whooping and hollering like you had just won the gold medal.  It shows folks that their opinion actually matters and for this reason one of the most coveted awards is the People’s Choice award.  The challengers were vying for nothing more than the bragging rights until next year’s competition in categories including Judges’ Choice, People’s Choice, Best Costumes, Most Spirit, etc.


As a fund raiser, those of you who attended helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Cinnabar Theater.  In the thirteen years since The Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa and Beer Tasting’s inception this event has raised over $250,000 for Cinnabar Theater’s Young Reparatory Program.  It makes me proud to be able help out my community in this way and had nothing to do with the never ending bowls, cups and glasses of incredible chili, salsa and beer…nothing to do with it at all.

As always, Tree Huggin’ Hippies walked away with numerous awards but this year took home the top judges’ prize of Grand Champions. 

After several years of second place finishes Granma Po’s took home the much coveted People’s Choice Award. 

Rumor has it that due to the quick sell-out of challenger positions this year teams are already signing up to come back next year and make it bigger, better and tastier than this year.

A list of this year’s winners and more pictures can be found at: www.greatchilicookoff.com

Mark your calendar for May 7th, 2011 so you don’t miss out on next year’s event.



The author with Petaluma’s Mayor (Pam Torliet) and The Chili Empress (Laura Sunday)…can you guess who is who?