By Traci Chapman
With Western Days now less than a month away, organizers are hoping to beef up the participant number for one of its signature activities.
Western Days chili cook-off has been a major attraction through the years – distinctive, in part, because it is held Friday evening, rather than many of the event’s Saturday offerings. It’s also a chance for area businesses and organizations to garner some attention, while cooking up tasty creations and having fun in the process, Mustang
Chamber of Commerce director Renee Peerman said.
“This was never designed as a sanctioned chili cook-off – it’s always been about highlighting our local businesses and as a chamber fundraiser,” Peerman said. “It’s been a popular way to get people out the night before the biggest Western Days events, and it’s really grown each year.”
In fact, last year’s chili cook-off drew a record number of contestants, Peerman said – an achievement the director hopes to top this year.
“We are hoping to have about 20 entries this year,” she said. “It is always so fun – these teams get really competitive.”
Teams provide their own 10 x 10 canopy and enough chili to feed the crowd, generally 15 to 20 pounds, Peerman said. Mustang fire and police departments take turns serving as cook-off judges, awarding the Judge’s Choice award; two others – Most Popular and People’s Choice – are determined by individual booth total tips and public ticket collections, respectively.
Participant entry costs are $20, and visitors purchase $5 tickets that give them a tasting bowl and spoon, as well as a ticket to cast their most favorite vote, Peerman said. The cook-off runs from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and is held in front of Mustang Town Center.
Longtime cook-off sponsor First National Bank and Trust again serves as event organizer this year. More information about this year’s Western Days is available on the chamber website, located at https://mustangwesterndays.com/. Chili cook-off rules and applications – which must be turned in by Sept. 5 – are available at https://mustangwesterndays.com/applications/.