Vermont Chili Festival Set for March 14

By Alessandria Schumacher

Has this warm, sunny weather got you itching to get out of the library and walk around town, even though it’s not quite warm enough for ice cream and popsicles? How about a warm bowl of chili – or, better yet, chili samples from over 40 restaurants, groups and clubs in the area? It sounds like the 7th Annual Vermont Chili Festival is the place for you!

Luckily, you will not have to travel far for this monumental Vermont event. Chili Fest will be happening this Saturday, March 14 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Middlebury.

At least 5000 people will fill the streets of Middlebury to participate in this annual event. Furthermore, this year, Chili Fest made it onto the Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s “Top 10 Winter Events List.” Fortunately, this momentous event and unlimited chili is not too pricey. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Proceeds from this event go to various charities, including the Better Middlebury Parternship and the Vermont Food Bank.

The purchase of one ticket allows you to have free samples from all vendors who participate. Vendors in the past have included groups such as the Middlebury College Men’s Cross Country Team (last year’s winner), American Flatbread, the Middlebury Fire Department, and the Middlebury College Snowbowl (like  the Snowbowl Chili served at Proctor).

The chili from groups such as these, and many more, will be ranked by a panel of judges and first, second, and third place winners will be chosen in the following categories: beef, veggie, chicken, game, pork, “kitchen sink,” and overall winner. Chili eaters (you could be among them!) also have the chance to vote on the chili that will receive the “People’s Choice” award. Upon arriving, everyone receives several poker chips to put in the buckets by the chilis they like best. The chili receiving the most popular votes wins People’s Choice.

Even if you do not like chili, it is still great to enjoy the festival’s atmosphere and entertainment. In the past, there have been dance performances, live music, flash mobs, and ample opportunities for people watching, and there is sure to be just as much entertainment, if not more, this year.

Whether you choose to eat chili, vote on your favorite sample, or just come for the celebration, Chili Fest promises to be an excellent way to spend your Saturday afternoon. And just think, maybe your vote could be the one to differentiate that winning chili from all the rest.

For more information, check out the 2015 Vermont Chili Festival facebook page / event, go to experiencemiddlebury.com or email vermontchilifest@gmail.com.

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