CLAREMONT — Clear skies and sunshine contributed to a large turnout at the Claremont Chili Cook-off on Saturday, with over 600 patrons submitting ballots for their favorite chilis from a pool of 14 entrants.
Claremont Parks and Recreation Director Mark Brislin said that getting an accurate festival attendance count is difficult, because many people who attend the festival may not enter the chili tasting or cast a ballot. But the aid of beautiful weather made turnout noticeably stronger than in recent years, which sometimes saw chilly or precipitous conditions.
“Just from working the [chili] booth, I noticed the difference,” Brislin said. “[The serving] was nonstop.”
Matt Cammarata and Willy Taylor are creators of the Mason/Dixon Line Chili. Mason/Dixon Line Chili won for the second year in a row, this year under the Imperial Autobody sponsorship. The previous year Mason/Dixon Line Chili was sponsored by Dark Mark Tattoo of Keene, NH. Imperial's Mason/Dixon Line Chili won the Father Mike Award for Best Overall Chili, first place for Judges Choice and first place in ballots for business contestants.
The second place Judges' Choice Award went to the Claremont Parks and Recreation Department for their Spectacular Parks Chili. The third place award went to individual contestant Jillian Chaloux for Just-N-Jilly’s Sweet N Spicy Chili.
Voters gave second place in the business category to Hairitage Barber Shop in Claremont for their Hairitage Chili, and third place in business to Red River in Claremont for their Red River Chili.
In the nonprofit organization category, voters awarded first place to the Sullivan County Health Care in Unity for their Chef Joe’s Famous Chili. Second place went to Claremont Parks and Recreation and third place went to Claremont Girl Scout Troop 30261 for their 3 C’s Chili.
Many attendees missed the opportunity to try the chili of first year entrant the Sunshine Cook Shop, a Carribean restaurant in Claremont, because restaurant owner Errol Letman ran out of chili early in the competition.
The competition organizers recommend making at least 10 gallons of chili for the event.
“I should have made more chili,” Letman laughed when asked about his first-year experience.
This was the 22nd year of the Claremont Fall Festival. Sponsored by the city Parks and Recreation and the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce, the morning festivities opened with a kids fun run on Water Street and the popular 5K race, which starts on Water Street and circles runners through Mondondack Park and the historic downtown. The festival ran 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center Green. Rusted Chrome, a Sunapee rock band, performed their signature covers of mostly 70s and 80s rock hits throughout the event. Over 40 businesses and non-profit organizations set up exhibits to sell concessions or merchandise, offer free activities for children or educate the public.
“I’ve received great feedback this year from community members,” Brislin said. “The festival has been one of the important staples of the community.”
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that Mason/Dixon Line Chili has been sponsored by different businesses.