Offshore Ale in the 2004 Big Chili Contest. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Now that's a pot of chili! Offshore Ale entered the 2004 Big Chili Contest with a seriously big batch. Photo by Ralph Stewart

Adios... and pass the chili

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - January 26, 2006

On Saturday, Jan. 28, WMVY radio gathers chili concoctors and aficionados under one roof for a no-holds-barred competition that benefits the Red Stocking Fund, the charity that provides Christmas gifts to needy Island children. This year's competition will be special for many reasons. The 20th anniversary of the Big Chili Contest would be special enough, but add the fact that this event will be the last one held at the Atlantic Connection and you have the makings of a big party indeed.

The contest is a good example of the "if you build it they will come" theory. Fans make an annual pilgrimage to the Atlantic Connection (AC) in Oak Bluffs, most coming from off-Island, making the contest the biggest event of the winter. The Big Chili Contest has taken on a life of its own, but the station staff works hard for months to bring the event off without any hitches. Valerie Tweten, WMVY traffic director and office manager, happily reports that "the event is completely sold out." Those lucky enough to have a ticket will judge the chili of 21 different contestants in both professional and amateur categories.

"It's a big day in Oak Bluffs," said Lorraine Clark, longtime volunteer for the Red Stocking Fund. She and others from the Red Stocking group will put in a full day on Saturday, arriving early in the morning to help the contestants set up. "The crew of the Atlantic Connection are very good. They know just what to do," Ms. Clark said. She is looking forward to a fun day and a packed AC to help fill those stockings next Christmas.

If you don't have a ticket for the Big Chili Contest you can line up outside the AC and take your chances. As people leave the party you might be able to get in. Here are the Top Ten reasons you should try:

10. Wake up your taste buds with spectacular chili.

9. Perfect your technique for cooling a hot mouth. Try inhaling quick, short breaths while fanning your face. Or just gulp Dos Equis until the pain subsides.

8. Enjoy the Mariachi band.

7. Wear your cowboy boots.

6. It's a combination frat party, cook-off, winter vacation, Mardi Gras, and very antithesis of a stuffy charity event.

5. The Red Stocking Fund will be very grateful.

4. Your hearing is already shot from those IPod ear buds, so the noise level won't bother you.

3. Vote for your favorite chili or for the people who give you the best free stuff.

2. Ride Island Transport buses from the SSA dock to the contest and back.

1. Say good-bye to the Atlantic Connection by making this the best party ever.

The Big Chili Contest, Saturday, Jan. 28, 11 am to 3 pm. Tickets are $20.