The 13th annual Buchanan Chili Cook-Off contest to take place March 21

Published 9:22 am Thursday, February 28, 2019

BUCHANAN — From spicy to sweet, chefs who have participated in the Buchanan Chili Cook-Off Contest have impressed tastebuds with recipes that have ranged from flaming hot takes on the classic comfort food to dessert-inspired dishes.

This year, the competition and the spicy heat returns. The 13th annual Chili Cook-Off will take place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21 in downtown Buchanan. Those interested in participating can purchase a spoon for $2 at Lehman’s Orchard Brewery & Farmhouse, 204 Redbud Trail N. An awards ceremony will take place at Lehman’s after votes have been tallied.

Those looking to put their chili recipes to the test can enter the competition for $20. Competitors are encouraged to sign up a week in advance and can do so by visiting the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce’s webpage at

The event will be co-sponsored by the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce and Buchanan Meadows, a local memory care facility. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Buchanan High School Choir. The cook-off typically draws between 500 to 700 people to participate.

Carol Carroll, the executive director of the Buchanan Chamber of Commerce, said the event usually takes place when the weather starts to get a little warmer, giving people a chance to get outside.

“It’s a fun day,” Carroll said. “People walk through town. The last few years, we have had a lot of really good weather. It just a good way to break up the winter when we start waiting for spring to come.”

The event also seeks to familiarize people with downtown businesses. 

“It brings people into town and creates interest,” Carroll said. “On a Thursday afternoon, it brings the foot traffic into town that would not normally have been there.”

The chili walk typically brings close to two dozen competitors, many of whom show a lot of Bucktown spirit and creativity in their dishes.

“They really put a lot of effort into it,” Carroll said.

Those who compete can earn awards in three categories, including a People’s Choice and an award for showing spirit. Judges will also cast their votes for the best dish.

Carroll encouraged anyone looking to share their recipe with the community to sign up to compete.

“You can be a business or a team. You do not need a professional kitchen,” Carroll said. “It’s open to anybody who wants to form a team. We have organizations, companies and businesses [that participate].”

For those looking to sample a variety of chili recipes, Carroll encouraged them to participate.

“It’s a fun, inexpensive dinner,” Carroll said.