Madera chili cook-off makes a spicy return

The Fresno BeeJune 9, 2014 

The Great Madera Chili Cook-off is back.

After more than a decade-long absence, the popular chili contest is being fired up once again on Saturday at Madera District Fairgrounds.

The event's slogan is: "This ain't your Daddy's Cook-Off anymore."

For starters, the event has added a salsa-making competition that is open to individuals and restaurants.

"Everyone thinks they have a great salsa," says Joel Morales, event director. "Now they can put it up against all the rest."

The hallmark event of the festival remains the chili contest. Everyone from home cooks to restaurants will compete for cash prizes. There is even a special category for firefighters.

"There are so many fire stations that have someone who is really good at making chili, so we have invited them to compete against each other," Morales says.

Judging will be done by the Institute of Technology culinary school, headed by chef Don Waddell. The culinary students will also be preparing and presenting summertime recipes and giving samples to the public.

Several food manufacturers will also provide samples, including Producers Dairy, Marie Callender's and La Tapatia. There will also be plenty of fair food vendors.

Morales said the event was brought back by popular demand.

"All the other cities around us have a signature event and we would like to have that kind of event back at the fairgrounds," he said.

To keep the fun going all day long, the event also includes a CrossFit competition, mixed martial arts exhibition, mud volleyball tournament, live music and the Miss Chili Pepper swimwear contest.

If you go

The Great Madera Chili Cook-off, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at Madera District Fairgrounds, 1850 Cleveland Ave., Madera. Cost: Adults, $5. Children 12 and under free. Parking free. Details:

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter.

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