Big Chili Contest heats up for the 28th year

Ramon Ruiz of Mariachi Mexico Lindo entertained the crowd at the 27th annual Big Chili Contest (2013) hosted by WMVY radio to benefit the Red Stocking Fund. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The 28th annual Martha’s Vineyard Big Chili Contest, hosted by MVY Radio, will heat up the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs this Saturday to raise money for the Red Stocking Fund, which provides food, clothing, and toys to Island children during the holiday season. Last year’s event raised $35,000.

About 2,000 people are expected to taste chili from two dozen contestants including competition veterans The Newes from America, The Black Dog Tavern, Jim Pringle, The Love Doctors from Connecticut, and the Edgartown Fire Department, according to Greg Orcutt, one of the event’s organizers and general manager of MVY Radio.

The background sounds will come from an East Boston mariachi band, the Island’s own Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, and a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, the Baha Brothers. The tasting begins at 11:30 am and ends at 4 pm with an après party in the P-A Club’s new bar until 6 pm. Tickets are $35. Mr. Orcutt said the advance tickets are sold out but there may be tickets available at the door. The event provides transportation to and from the ferries.

The competition categories include “Is It Really Chili?,” “Farthest Traveled” (last year’s came from Florida), “Best Presentation,” “Steve Jordan Memorial Hottest Chili” (Mr. Jordan retired from the contest to judge after winning the category 18 straight years), “Best Pro” and “Best Amateur” chili.

Mr. Orcutt said this is the sixth year the Chili Fest, as some call it, is being held at the P-A Club after being held for years at the old Atlantic Connection, which he said the event outgrew. “We are trying to be sure we don’t exceed the occupancy limits,” Mr. Orcutt said, “and won’t know how many we can admit until the tents go up on the P-A Club grounds on Thursday and the Oak Bluffs building inspector gives us a final count.”

MVY, the Vineyard’s local station for almost 30 years, lost its spot on the FM dial in February 2013 when Boston public radio station WBUR purchased the radio station from its parent company, Aritaur Communications, in order to acquire its signal. The MVY staff raised $600,000 in pledges in order to continue programing on the Internet at Mr. Orcutt said the station is working out the details on a plan to begin broadcasting over local airwaves on 88.7 FM in April. MVY is also available on air in and around Newport, R.I., on 96.5 FM.