The Hanover Chili Cook Off began with a single goal: to raise money for community needs.
Twenty years, thousands of beers, and countless dishes of chili later, the cook off's proceeds have provided more than $500,000 to the Hanover area, said John Loose, promotions coordinator for the event. Even when the cook off's founders, KClinger's Tavern, closed in 2012, the volunteers agreed that the show must go on; its impact on the community was too great.
The 2015 version of the cook off is returning in a big way on Sept. 6.
Count on about 30 chili competitors, several non-chili food vendors, three musical acts, mucho beer and malts, entertainers, and 350 devoted volunteers. Rain or shine, follow the smell of chili to Good Field, 70 N. Forney Ave., Hanover, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
"One group will seriously build a barn with a roof and put a ton of sand around it," Loose said. Another chili entrant has created a saloon with dancers in front, serving chili.
Sponsors offset all of the upfront costs of this food fest, he said. Even Miller Lite and Bud Lite haul in massive trucks with multiple taps to provide brews. Volunteers also run the show, and Loose is always looking for more.
Here are the reasons to go:
Entertainment: Hanover's Cledus Snow Mother Truckers and Macy K & the Oven Hot Fresh Delicious, and Baltimore headliner the Kelly Bell "Big" Band, which will have about 18 back-up instruments and singers.
Price: Tickets are $8.50. What you get is a spoon, so go hungry. You can take in lawn chairs and blankets for seating, but tents, coolers and dogs aren't allowed.
Food: A wide variety of chili, of course. And there are food vendors to purchase other goodies: EPIC Pickles, Rita's Italian Ice, Appalachian Brewing Company's root beer floats, wood-fired pizza, funnel cakes, flavored popcorn, and smoked meat.
Drinks: Yuengling Lager and Oktoberfest, Shock Top, Great Lakes Brewing Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, New Belgium Ranger and Fat Tire Amber, Miller Lite, Sam Adams Oktoberfest and a variety of malt beverages.
Entertainment for the kids: First, the coloring contest. Go to www.hanoverchilicookoff.com for details. There's also a clown painting faces, an artist drawing caricatures, a juggler, and a photo booth (for all ages).
Beneficiaries of the cook off:The Hart Center in New Oxford, providing programs for adults with disabilities, Guthrie Memorial Library, the Adams County SPCA (it switches annually between York and Adams counties), Hanover Area Council of Churches for meals and programs for less-advantaged people, Friends of Codorus State Park, and private donations to community people in need.