The 8th Annual Charlotte Harbor Chili Challenge, Beer & Blues Fest

The aroma of award-winning chili will return to Laishley Park in Punta Gorda on Jan. 26 at the 8th annual Charlotte Harbor Chili Challenge, Beer, and Blues Festival.

Up to 20 chili teams will set up their chili cooking booths in Laishley Park in an effort to persuade the judges and the general public that their chili is the best. The teams may consist of friends, family, service organizations, clubs, nonprofits, businesses, or just about anyone who has the desire to make good, if not great chili.

Teams will be challenged to decorate their booths in a “Mardi Gras” theme. The best decorated booth will win the Showmanship award and a first place prize of $500. Booths will be judged on five criteria– Theme, Action, Costume, Audience Appeal and Booth Set-Up.

Chili will be the focus of the day and it will be judged in two ways. A panel of judges will taste test samples from each of the teams. Judges will score chili samples on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best. There are five criteria for scoring– Aroma, Consistency, Color, Taste and Texture. NOTE: Heat is not a grading factor. The Chili Challenge winners will receive $500, Bragging rights, and a trophy and prizes will be awarded through 5th place.

There will also be a $500 award for the People’s Choice of best Chili. Each attendee will receive a voting token when they enter through the main gate. The Team with the most tokens wins the coveted People’s Choice Award and $500.

People’s Choice Tokens will be collected at 4 p.m. with the winner announced at the Award Ceremony at 5 p.m. on the main stage.

Thirsty attendees will have an opportunity to sample different beers from small breweries not always readily available in our area. The Beer Tasting Tent will feature over 50 different craft beers from microbreweries around the country to satisfy your thirst. Specialty beers will be available by samples or by the bottle.

In addition to the chili cooking, there will be a full slate of activities during the festival. Merchandise vendors will be on hand as well as other food vendors when you’re ready to take a break from the chili.

Live music will be performed all day on the Main Stage and there will be a Kid’s Fun Zone to keep the young ones occupied.

Gates open at 11 a.m.

Live music begins at noon with Deb and the Dynamics. The Nouveaux Honkies take the stage at 2 p.m. with a great blend of blues and Americana music. The Avey Grouws Band takes the stage at 4 p.m.

Gate admission is $5. Kids under 12 are free admission.

Tickets are required for chili, beer, other food and the kids area. Tickets are $1 each.

For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.PuntaGordaChiliFest.com or call 941-637-5953

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