BWL Chili Cook-Off

5 06 2009
Lines for chili at the 2009 BWL Chili Cook-Off

Lines for chili at the 2009 BWL Chili Cook-Off

I’m not going to elaborate too much, but the BWL Chili Cook-Off was kind of a disappointment.  I don’t know if it was the change in location, the nicer weather, or something else.  About half of the booths were empty by the time we got there at 7:30 and the lines were so long, we only had two samples in the 20 minutes we were there.  On top of that, we couldn’t figure out where to buy a Pepsi.  I’m not angry that I pretty much wasted the $10.  Really, I’m sad.  I’ve been looking forward to this day for a year….and I was so excited I couldn’t sleep last night. 

What I’m really interested in, and why I’m even posting this,  is your experience…especially those of you that have been going for many years.  Were things different this year?   Good or bad?




11 responses

5 06 2009

I think you are expressing the same sentiment I felt. I wasn’t really angry but sad and frustrated that the great memories I had of previous chili cook offs (even in the rain) were not even nearly matched this year. This year’s chili cook off was severely over-crowded and the vendors were not ready for a crowd 1/2 the size, what terrible planning. It’s tough to say that the change in venue was not in part to blame. I was embarrassed that I talked friends into going that had never been. It wasn’t terrible, and there was some great chili, but it was just not nearly what it used to be.

6 06 2009

I think the crowd far-exceeded all expectations…The weather was perfect for a change…

We arrived around 6:30 and there were already several booths out of Chili by that time…

Amy and I were talking about the fact that there were no amateurs this year (last year there were 12 or 15 amateurs) although I believe there were just as many ‘professionals’ there this year as last…She was required to make 20 gallons, the ‘pros,’ 40 gallons…Without the amateurs there to serve as buffers, I think everyone was overwhelmed…As I recall, Amy ran out of Chili last year around 8 or 8:30, even with the torrential rainstorm we had around 5pm…

It was hard to tell where lines began and in some cases there were two lines formed…The beverage situation was ridiculous…

6 06 2009

Who won the 50/50 raffle?

6 06 2009

We have learned from past experience that the best time to get there is right at 5:00 p.m. If we do that, we can get through a dozen or so vendors before the crowds start arriving. We usually don’t stay after about 6:30 p.m. The crowds are just too much for us. Lately, we have been getting through about half to two-thirds of the vendors in this time. (Years ago, before this event got so popular, we could do all the vendors in this amount of time.) Next year, go at 5:00 p.m. if you can. You’ll have a much better experience. And no one will run out of chili before you get there!

6 06 2009
Ari Adler

I think frustration and disappointment were the sentiments we had, too. There’s not doubt it’s a massive undertaking and the organizers had their hands full, that’s for sure. But perhaps the Cookoff has become so popular it’s collapsing under its own weight? With all the extra activities going on and the bands playing and massive crowds — it wasn’t the Chili Cookoff anymore, it’s like it had become a mini Common Ground. Vendors were running out of chili, spoons, cups, napkins — and this was all by 7 p.m. at an event slated to go from 5 to 10 p.m. All the side entertainment in the world won’t help keep the crowd happy at a Chili Cookoff if there isn’t enough chili or an efficient way for them to get it and eat it.

7 06 2009
Dan Lash

I had a great time. Even though when we walked across the bridge at 6:30 and saw the line I freaked out. There was even a line to get into the park! But I think just the look or thought of a line was a lot worse than it actually was. The lines moved incredibly quickly, which was good.

I think it worked out well because we could grab a cup and then immediately get in line for another vendor. By the time we made it to the front of the line (~5-10mins) we had time to taste, enjoy, and discuss the previous vendor.

It was a bit sad to be in line and have the vendor run out of chili, spoons, or cups, which all happened to me … but am I going to let it ruin my experience? No. Was it perfect? No. Will I go again next year? Definitely.

7 06 2009

This was my first year attending after a great review of last year’s on this site. Since we had never been before, we were shocked by the crowd but thought it might have always been like this. Knowing now that this was a first, I feel a little better about the crazyness. I think we will go back next year, but will hope for improvements now that they now the venue can’t handle crowds of this size!

8 06 2009

Don’t forget that 100% of the proceeds go to some really great causes. The logistics were a bit unfortunate this year, but these charities really appreciate your support. I’m sure the organizers will be ready again next year. The bottom line is, did you still have fun? 5 bucks is still a great deal, I only got to sample like 8 vendors and it was still a great event!

8 06 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

no, it was a miserable experience

8 06 2009

I would give to the charities again any day- but that was a horrible experience. We were there about a half hour and I only got 3 samples, the workers there (not the vendors- those working for the cook off) were rude, and the crowd was bad. I will go back if they move it to the old location but I don’t see this year’s location ever working very well.

8 06 2009

I don’t think the old location will be available next year J…Isn’t the old site (or at least the North end of it) going to be where the new city market is going to be built along with the condominiums Gillespie is building?

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