Family Time: ‘Not your average backyard chili challenge’

September 28, 2018

Brandon Bagt of Rochester samples one of many chili dishes offered at the 2014 Chili Challenge.

Try as much and as many as you want at the 10th annual Boys & Girls Club Chili Challenge. Held tomorrow, outdoors on the Peace Plaza, family members go booth to booth sampling 25-plus chilis.

“It’s all the chili you can taste,” said Naura Anderson, event co-organizer. “Restaurants, businesses, and community groups make the chili. There are three categories: Real Deal — no pasta or beans, Anything Goes — one year we had a team that made an ice cream chili, and Vegetarian Chili.”

In addition to chili, there’s fun — bounce houses, face painting, a photo booth, a DJ and more.

“It’s a really fun social event. Lots of activities for families,” said Anderson. “This isn’t your average backyard chili challenge.”

Families can also vote for their favorite chili.

“You can vote for people’s choice and kid’s choice awards,” said Anderson, noting that last year’s B&G Club team, made up of club youth members, won the vegetarian category. “We also have the spicy spirit award. Teams decorate their booths, come in costume. Last year one of the teams had a Louisiana-style chili and a Mardi Gras-themed booth.”

The money raised at the event goes to support youth programs at the Boys & Girls Club. Open to kids ages 5 to 18, year round, the club offers fun activities that support academic success, character and leadership, health and life skills, and the arts.

“It’s our second-biggest fundraiser of the year (the first being A Chair Affair),” said Anderson. “It’s also the biggest non-Rochester Downtown Alliance event that’s held on Peace Plaza each year.”

Wristbands for the chili tasting are $20 for adults, $7 for kids ages 6 through 12, free for kids ages 5 and younger. For $10 more ($30 total), adults over 21 can also participate in the home brew tasting. A dozen-plus local home brewers and breweries will have a variety of beers to sample.

“The club is ramping up its fall programming right now,” said Anderson. “The money raised at the Chili Challenge helps us — a lot.”

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