Along with Bluebonnets, Paint Brushes, and other assorted wildflowers, Springtime brings the delicious aroma of world-class chili and barbecue to the Texas Hill Country around Johnson City. Spicy food enthusiasts flock to the Blanco County Fairgrounds to participate in the fun and foolishness associated with the Texas Men’s State Chili and Barbecue Championship which is held each year on the last weekend of March. This year’s edition will be held on Saturday, March 26.
For many of the competitors, the cook-off will be a solemn event as they try to achieve some of the biggest bragging rights in the world of competitive cooking – to be the Texas State Men’s Champion. Camaraderie and fun will abound, but cooks will defend the sacred trust of these Texas dishes against competitors from as far away as Illinois, California, and Maryland.
The chili event will be sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), and the goal will be to make the best bowl of traditional Texas Red, no beans, just chili. The top three winners will qualify to cook in the Terlingua International Chili Championship held every November in Terlingua, Texas. Johnson City’s own 2008 international chili champion, Susan Dean, will preside over the Finals judging table.
On the barbecue side, cooks will spend Friday night carefully watching over their smokers as they try to produce the perfect chicken, pork spare ribs, and brisket to please the judges. The barbecue competition is sanctioned by the Lone Star Barbecue Society. The grand champion will advance to compete in Kansas City.
In addition to chili and barbecue, there will be fun competitions for cash prizes in the beans and hot wings categories. All of these contests present plenty of opportunity for the public to join the judges and do some sampling. Bring your appetite and sign up for a spot at a judging table. You can choose to judge one category or you can go for the gusto and sign up for several.
The festivities start Saturday morning at 11:00 with the judging of beans and hot wings. Chicken judging begins at noon, ribs at 1:00, chili at 2:00, and brisket at 3:30. There will be live music all afternoon with a special performance by singer-songwriter Scooter Pearce at 3:00. Plenty of vendors will be on site to tempt visitors with a wide variety of food items, jewelry, plants, crafts, and more. Admission is free of charge.
This will be the eighth year Johnson City has hosted the chili and barbecue championships. It has become a popular attraction for local residents and visitors from all over the US. While in town, visitors can also stop by some of the fine art galleries, specialty shops, eateries, and historic sites.
The Pod On The Pedernales will have their cookoff on Sunday, March 28 with judging beginning at 12 Noon. The public is invited to cook (men and women) or judge at this event too.
For more information, call Alan Dean at 512-567-2835.