Spicing up Green Lake: Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff

Wisconsin State Chili winners
Photograph by Jean Cornelius

Imagine heading into a community for family vacation and being met with the savory and delightful scent of spices wafting over the light breeze of the lake. While chili is a delicious and cozy dish to cook on a blustery fall day, it can also bring out the competitive side in those who love to make it.

Each year, as many as 40 cooks take the challenge by participating in the Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff contest on the beautiful shores of Green Lake. This contest, which is put on by the Green Lake Rotary Club and the International Chili Society, has been steadily growing for over 30 years, and today, it attracts over 1,000 people to its location in Green Lake’s Deacon Mills Park.

This year’s chili cookoff will take place on Saturday, September 8, when cooks will meet at 10:00 a.m. under the big tent in Deacon Mills Park and start the process of combining their specialty ingredients to create some of the best chilis your taste buds will ever experience.

Cooking must be completed by 3:00 p.m., and each chef’s official quart is turned into the judge’s table at this time. The long line of public attendees that drapes around the tent is then invited in to sample the chili and vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Photograph by Jean Cornelius

As the judges taste the many recipes, the public is not only sampling chili, but also chatting with festively dressed cooks; indulging on mouthwatering appetizers, like chips and homemade salsa and desserts; socializing; and listening to the event’s live music.

Once the judges make their extremely difficult decisions, the top 10 places are announced, with the first place team moving on to compete at the International Chili Society World Championship. The award ceremony is a fast-paced and lively one that really captures the participation of the audience as they bid in an auction and take home their favorite chili!

What’s more is that the Wisconsin Chili Cookoff is very much an event the whole family can enjoy.

“The Chili Cookoff is a very family-friendly event with fantastic food, great music, and an assortment of extremely creative chefs whose concoctions will definitely delight the palate and tantalize the taste buds,” says Bill Munsey, chairman of the Chili Cookoff for nearly 30 years.

For more information about this event or how to sign up your team, please contact the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at (920) 294-3231 or go to visitgreenlake.com .

Alyssa Paulsen is the Marketing & Project Coordinator of the Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.