It was a beautiful 59 degrees on Saturday over presidents day weekend for the annual Fire and Ice Chili Cook-off. This annual event took place in historic Downtown Blue Ridge right across the tracks from Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals and Blue Ridge Adventure Center and behind the main street businesses. Hungry chili-eaters of all ages lined up in anticipation, waiting for the 12 o’clock hour to hit and the chili sampling to begin.
It was a jubilees event, with classic “golden oldies” playing over the sound system and happy event-goers dancing unabashedly in the streets, often times with pets and children. Vendors from around Blue Ridge flocked to the Chili Cook-off to show off their wares, and more importantly, give away their one-of-a kind chili samples.
Some recognizable names included Harvest on Main, who prepared a savory concoction of different cuts of meat in what they called a “classic style chili”, or one without any beans. Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grill, and Mercier Orchards came prepared with strong showings, with both chili’s containing unique spices and ingredients that had people asking for more. Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals made a huge impression on the crowd, showcasing their people-friendly approach with their own sound system and what was perhaps the most original chili blend of the day, which included several secret ingredients that provided chili lovers with “sweet heat”. People swarmed for the innovative chili batch, using sample cups and utensils faster than SoCo could keep up with them.
And the winners, you ask? Christy Lee’s won People’s Choice, Trout Unlimited won best organization, and Mercier Orchard the coveted judges award for best tasting chili.
In the end the event was a huge success, bringing great attention to Blue Ridge with a crowd three times the size of last year’s event, 1/3 of which was local and the rest reportedly from Atlanta and Florida. The night was capped off with the soulful sounds of Francene Reed, veteran of the Blue Ridge Blues & BBQ Event and master of Blues music.
Plan on attending next year and make it a weekend… Southern Comfort Cabin Rentals will provide the setting, you make the memories!