Finally– the arrival of one of the year’s most anticipated events! Drum roll please…. today is the seventh annual Vermont Chili Festival!!! We cannot contain our excitement. Don’t believe us? Middlebury’s chili fest was named one of the top ten winter events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce– sounds like a ringing endorsement from people who are really in the know.
So what does Chili Fest actually entail? For all you newbs or those who just need a little refresher course, here’s some basic info to make chili fest the wonderful day of unlimited eating that it is.
Vendors from all over Vermont will convene today at 1PM on Main Street to vie for the title of best chili in Vermont. A panel of judges will award a winner for each of six categories: veggie, beef, chicken, kitchen sink, pork, best overall. If anyone can clarify what kitchen sink means in the comment section that would be much appreciated!
What’s our role in all of this? We pay a $7 fee upon entering in exchange for a spoon, some voting chips, and day of delicious fun. Line up on either side of the tents to sample each of the batches of chili. You’ll probably recognize some of the vendors– many local restaurants compete as well as some of our own Midd students!
When you try a batch that reaaaaally speaks to you, drop a chip off for that vendor. The top vote will get a people’s choice cash award!
So now you have the basics. Let’s talk strategy.
1. DRESS IN LAYERS. We’re all in the phase of spring right now when any weather above thirty degrees feels effing tropical. But guys it’s still really cold, and standing outside for a few hours takes its toll. Warm socks are a must. We’re all wishing the winter away with spring outfits (I’m looking at you, people breaking out the chacos), but in truth it’s still quite chilly.
2. Get used to the chili puns now. See above.
3. In the same vein, it’s probably going to rain today. Plan accordingly and still go. We’re psuedo Vermonters now, and the chili fest website describes us as hardy. So.
4. The corn bread goes fast. Just a warning.
5. Give your chips out carefully. You can walk through at the end to cast your votes, but don’t be shy to drop a chip when you taste the best thing you’ve ever eaten.
6. If you don’t like chili (like me), it doesn’t really matter. Just go. There’s live music and other things to do too!
7. Think about pacing yourself, but don’t think too much. You’ll know when you’ve had enough, but it probably won’t come till the end. If you don’t like a sample, don’t finish it. This is your best way to ensure that you won’t get too full before you’ve tried everything. If getting full is something you anticipate, avoid the chips.
8. Try not to lose steam. Call it when the sight of chili is too much, or when you get too cold. But other than that, soak it all in and take advantage of seeing the whole state converge on Middlebury’s main street all in the name of a hot meat meal. (weird)
9. Veer off the beaten path. While the restaurants you recognize will obviously be bringing it, some unexpected contenders may surprise you.
10. Teamwork. Fire up that GroupMe and keep your crew informed about what is not to be missed, and where to steer clear. Thats what being a friend is all about.
Go forth and gorge!