Wisconsin State Chili Cookoff


For more than 40 years, the Wisconsin State Championship Chili Cook-Off has been held in downtown Green Lake, bringing together chili chefs from around the state and beyond to compete for the state title and a chance to compete at the international level.

Sponsored by the Green Lake Rotary Club, attendees will be invited to sample a diverse variety of chili, meet the chefs, and vote for their favorite chili in the coveted People’s Choice Award, with a cash prize of up to $500 and a trophy. Sample cups will be sold by the Rotary Club for $1, which includes four two-ounce sample cups with one ticket to vote for the chili of choice. Trays for sample cups are provided until gone.

As attendees sample chili, they can chat with festively theme-dressed cooks. Chefs wear an attire of their choosing, and the team with the best theme will win the Showmanship Award, with a $100 cash prize and trophy. There’s also a trophy for the spiciest chili, so tasters be advised! You will know by their names.

The Chili Cook-off is set for Saturday, September 11, at Deacon Mills Park in downtown Green Lake. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. for contestants who have registered with the Green Lake Rotary Club and the International Chili Society (ICS). Membership with the ICS allows chefs to compete for the World Title in any ICS-sanctioned event in the country.

Competing cooks will have a brief meeting at 10:00 a.m., with food prep beginning at 10:30 a.m. Cooking begins at 11:00 a.m. No advance preparation is allowed, and no beans or noodles are allowed in the judging portion of festivities. The chefs will be making traditional red chili at this competition. Chips and salsa are complimentary additions, just for fun, at many tables.

Music begins at noon with DJ Gregg Owens and the band Cannonball in the band shell on the Starlight Stage. Admission is free.

Photograph by Jean Cornelius

The Rotary will sell t-shirts, aprons, soda, water, beer, and chili. No carry-ins, please. Raffle tickets are for sale for $5 each or three for $10 from Rotary members or at the Horicon Bank in Green Lake, where some of the many prizes are on display. They will also be sold at the Chili Cook-off, and prizes will be drawn in the late afternoon on the day of the event.

Judging begins at 3:00 p.m. Judges evaluate each chili based on its appearance, texture, and taste. Notes are written on official ballots, required by the ICS. Some of the judges include local and state politicians, fellow Rotarians, and this year’s celebrity judge is comedian Costaki Economopoulos. Costaki is performing at the Thrasher Opera House on Saturday, September 11, at 7:30 p.m. To reserve tickets online, please visit thrasheroperahouse.com .

Chefs compete for a cash prize of $800 and trophy for first place, a $200 cash prize and trophy for second place, and a $150 cash prize and trophy for third place. The Spicy Award also receives a trophy. The first-place winning team moves on to compete in the ICS World Championship.

The top ten quarts of chili are auctioned off after awards are presented. Chili at auction can bring in over $100 for a single entry from one of the winners.

All proceeds raised by the Green Lake Rotary Club go to support Rotary International, foreign exchange students from many countries, and local organizations and events. New members are always welcome.

For more information on registering for the Wisconsin State Championship, go to the International Chili Society website at chilicookoff.com/cookoffs or contact Lisa Meier at the Green Lake Chamber of Commerce: lisa@visitgreenlake.com .