Chili fest spices up weekend events

Culture: Teams put their recipes to the test in annual favourite

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014 11:08 am

A sample of chili is served up for an eager Okotoks resident during last year’s Chili Fest. This year’s event is set to go this weekend on Aug. 30
A sample of chili is served up for an eager Okotoks resident during last year’s Chili Fest. This year’s event is set to go this weekend on Aug. 30
Wheel File Photo

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Okotoks merchants and residents will stir the pot to create a traditional cowboy comfort food this weekend.

More than half a dozen teams will concoct mouth-watering chili recipes for the 13th annual Okotoks Chili Fest and Cook Off on Aug. 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in conjunction with Summer Saturdays Festival in downtown Okotoks.

“Chili is an easy recipe to make,” said Mark Doherty, the Town of Okotoks community events coordinator. “Everyone has a secret ingredient. It’s an opportunity for bragging rights.”

Each team is provided with 20 pounds of ground beef and are left to their own devices to create their concoction.

Prizes will be awarded for the best chili voted by a judge and the public, for best theme display and most enthusiastic team.

“Everybody can make chili,” Doherty said. “If you’re not a good cook you can still make chili. These aren’t professional chefs by any means.”

The chili festival takes place in conjunction with the Okotoks Pro Rodeo.

The Okotoks Lions Club is holding a pancake breakfast in the Lions Park from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and the Summer Saturdays Festival will take place at the east end of downtown with more than 100 vendors from the Market Square and Okotoks Farmers’ Market displaying their wares and fresh produce.

Last year’s event drew 8,000 people, said Doherty.

“There is some great shopping opportunities and some great shops within our downtown,” he said. “Obviously we want to support our downtown. It’s the hub of our existence, our culture and history.”

Music will be in abundance in front of the Okotoks Art Gallery throughout the day with more than half a dozen musicians including Dwight Forseth and High River’s Amos Garrett.

The front of the art gallery will also feature bouncy houses, barbecued hot dogs, children’s crafts and local artists selling their work.

“It’s pretty much a small town fair,” said Allan Boss, Town of Okotoks cultural and historic services team leader. “Our job is to bring culture to the community.”

The Summer Saturdays Festival has boosted the number of visitors to the Okotoks Art Gallery, said Boss.

Smaller festival days have had about 300 people and larger festival days that ran in conjunction with Buskerfest and the Taste of Okotoks saw 600 visitors, compared to 20 or 30 on a regular Saturday, said Boss.

“Our visitations to the gallery increases astronomically,” he said. “That’s pretty awesome getting that many people coming in to see an exhibit and visiting a building they might not have seen before. Seeing the growth from the First Saturdays Festival that started with the Okotoks Arts Council four years ago to now with the street closures - wow what vibrancy.”

Event goers will be transported between the Summer Saturdays Festival and Chili Fest via a horse-drawn wagon with stops at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre and Okotoks Art Gallery.

The public can try samples of the chili from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $5 at the corner of Elk Avenue and Elizabeth Street.

Proceeds made from this year’s Chili Festival goes toward the Foothills Humane Society.

For more information about the Chili Festival or Summer Saturdays Festival go to www.okotoks.ca/ChiliFest.aspx


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