2017 Wichita Wagonmaster's Downtown Chili Cookoff
Before there was a Tacofest, there was the Wichita Wagonmaster’s Downtown Chili Cookoff.
A local tradition for more than 30 years, the Chili Cookoff was taken over by the Wichita Wagonmaster’s, a group of civic-minded individuals who promote the good life in Wichita, in 2005 and promptly moved back downtown.
Since then, the event has shown phenomenal growth. More than 9,000 people are expected for this year's Cookoff on Sept. 30.
Last year was my second time attending the Chili Cookoff, and it has rapidly become one of my favorite events in Wichita!
What Your Ticket Gets You
The best part of any Chili Cookoff is the tastings. I've sampled an amazing amount of chili ranging from standard chili and garden variety to really unique, adventurous chili. The $5 ticket gets you a tasting packet, which includes, among other things, a spoon, wet wipes and beads which you use to vote for People’s Choice. The $5 also gets you unlimited tastings from all of the 70 teams expected to participate in the cookoff. Be sure to keep your spoon when disposing of your tasting cups! My wife threatened to either tape the spoon to my hand this year or mount one on a necklace so I wouldn’t lose it.
At the cookoff, my friends and I ate chili to our heart’s content and spent a decent amount of time debating which chili was best before finally awarding our favorite chili. With unlimited chili tastings, ice cream, beer, and live music, it’s easy to see why this annual event continues to grow in popularity.
The Chili Cookoff features both amateur and professional teams competing in the event, which is sanctioned by the International Chili Society (ICS). Teams compete for a variety of awards.
ICS sanctioned categories:
- ICS Red Chili
- ICS Chili Verde
- ICS Salsa
- No Beans About It
- Anything Goes
- Chili for Charity
- Sharon Sawyer’s People’s Choice
- Best Booth
- Cecille Kallenberger’s Team Spirit
- Grand Champion
The Cookoff also decides the Kansas State Champion and teams who win the ICS awards will go on to compete in the International Chili Society’s World Championship Chili Cookoff.
Saturday, Sept. 30
600 block of Douglas Avenue, located between St. Francis and the railroad
11:30 AM - 4 PM
Purchase $5 ticket upon entry