Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains is a beautiful place all year long, but wintertime in Gatlinburg is an especially delightful season. Christmas lights are being hung, and people are bustling from store to store, wrapped in their scarves and mitts, preparing for the holidays. It’s the perfect time to cuddle up next to a crackling fire in a cozy cabin, or bundle up and enjoy a nice cup of…chili. Maybe you were thinking cocoa, but chili is so much more filling! And at the Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cook off in Gatlinburg, delicious, hearty chili is in no short supply.
On November 9, from 5 to 8 pm, the 22nd annual Winter Magic Kickoff and Chili Cook off will be held on the plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Along with the Chili Cook off, the event will feature the season’s debut of Gatlinburg’s popular LED lights program, with over 3 million being lit. More than 20 restaurants, banks, retailers and civic groups will be showcasing their best chili recipes, while competing for a number of different awards. In the past, cups of savory and spicy chili have been served up by Nantahala Outdoor Center, Los Ositas Mexican Grill, Crawdaddy’s Restaurant, the Gatlinburg Police Department, Wonderworks, Citizens National Bank, Flying Saucer Grill, the Gatlinburg Fire Department, and many, many more.
Admission is free, but a wristband must be purchased to sample all of the amazing choices. Everyone who tastes is encouraged to vote for their favorite, to help decide who will win the top honor of People’s Choice Award. Best chili apron, best presentation, and best chili will be other awards given by a panel of judges.
Live entertainment will be provided all night, and there will even be a hot chili eating contest. During this fiery challenge, participants will try their tongues at different chili ranging from hot to blazing. The Winter Magic Kickoff will get you ready for the wonder of winter in Gatlinburg, and the Chili Cook off will be a fun and tasty time! And, the heat from the chili won’t be the only thing warming you up inside. A portion of the proceeds will go to a good cause—the Pi Beta Phi Elementary School PTA.
Wristbands will be available on-site the day of the event, so don’t miss out on your sampling of more than 30,000 cups of mouth-watering chili. Check out this video from the 2009 Kickoff and Cook off!