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Chili cookoff to be fair finale

Chili fans, get ready!

The Chili Cook-Off is back to its roots ... as a Sunday afternoon event at the Archuleta County Fair.

The annual Lee Sterling Chili Cook-Off closes the county fair on Sunday, Aug. 2. Contestants bring their entries to the fairgrounds viathe main gate and to the activity tent, starting at noon.

Volunteers will register each entry and give it a code, so blind judging can begin promptly at 1 p.m. Contestants may not be in the tent during judging. The public will be invited to sample and judge the coveted People’s Choice Award beginning at 2 Prizes, awards will be given after 3.

Judges will select winners in four categories — red, green, novelty and salsa — in both professional and amateur classes. The traditional red and green chili categories must contain no beans or pasta. Any vegetarian chili or chili with beans or pasta will register in the novelty category. The prestigious People’s Choice Award will be decided by the tasters.

Our traditional chili event at the fair involves great cooks, armed with crock pots and time-honored recipes.

The fair board surveyed the contestants about our local cook-off going big time. If we were to pay a yearly fee to join an international chili promotion organization, all cooking would need to take place on site and the outside organization would want Saturday night for “their” event. We’d have to drop our novelty vegetarian and beans category. Many serious chili cooks would travel to our competition judged by visiting judges. The overwhelming majority of local participants answered, “No, keep our Archuleta County chili cook-off local and low-key.”

We’re looking forward to more entries, but the same hometown flavor. Put it on your calendar now to be at the fair this year, for a celebration of all that’s good about Archuleta County life.

Entry forms may be found in The SUN closer to Fair time, at the Archuleta County Extension Office and online at