14th annual Buchanan Chili Walk Cook-Off set for April 7

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, March 31, 2022

BUCHANAN — A spicy local event will be making its long-awaited return from COVID-induced hiatus next week.

The 14th annual Chili Walk Cook-Off will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7 in downtown Buchanan. 

The popular event, sponsored by the Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce, gives people the chance to walk around downtown Buchanan and sample the different kinds of chili especially made by local vendors and residents. This year’s chili walk will be the first since 2019.

“When I first started this job in October, the main things people asked me about were Thrill on the Hill and the Chili Walk,” said Chamber Executive Director Ashley Regal. “It’s fun for the community to get to meet everybody and have an excuse to talk to people. It’s a nice time.”

Readers interested in participating in the event can purchase a spoon for $2 at Lehman’s Orchard Brewery & Farmhouse, 204 Redbud Trail N. Competitors can earn awards in three categories, including “people’s choice” and “best-named chili.” An awards ceremony will take place at Lehman’s after votes have been tallied.

Those looking to showcase their chili recipes can enter the competition for $20 by visiting the Chamber’s webpage at buchanan.mi.us.

Regal believes the Chili Walk gives people the opportunity to familiarize themselves with downtown businesses. 

“We have a new business opening up called Stella Mae’s, an event center,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for them to show off what they’re starting and answer any questions when someone may be normally shy or not know what regular hours are. This kind of thing pulls back the curtain on Buchanan.”

This year’s chili walk will be Regal’s first. She looks forward to an event that reminds her of her time spent abroad in Europe.

“I was in Italy in 2015 and they have a tradition called promenade, where every evening you go out, get your gelato and walk up and down the street,” she said. “You talk with your neighbors and ask them about what’s going on in their life.”

According to Regal, her time spent in Europe getting to know the locals helped inspire her to pursue a career in community engagement. She hopes the event will be enjoyable for those who have missed it the past two years due to COVID.

“That old world tradition of knowing your neighbors and that reliance on one another made me want to be involved in the community more,” she said. “[The chili walk] is pulling on the old world tradition of knowing our neighbors. … I think this tradition is a tradition for a reason and people look forward to it. We all want to know who is around us and feel that community vibe. I’m excited to bring it back and hopefully re-tie the bonds of community in Buchanan.”