City Wide Festival: The Williams Chili Challenge
Mid-October, the weather starts to turn cool, it's time for chili, right? In Lenexa, it's time for the Chili Challenge, sponsored by Williams Foods, a leading manufacturer of pre-packaged seasoning mixes located in the city. For a $1 admission fee, you receive a sticker to wear allowing you to roam the grounds, and a plastic spoon. The numerous chili cooking contestants are pleased to offer you samples of their piquant concoctions.
The event takes place on Santa Fe Drive in old downtown Lenexa. Several photos from the 2004 event can be seen in my travelogue.
The Williams Chili Challenge
"Festival on the route of the Santa Fe Trail"
More than a hundred contestants set up tents, complete with cookstoves and stocks of ingredients on Santa Fe Drive. Each team makes far more chili than that needed by the judges, and it is shared with festival attenders.
"Chili in a variety of styles"
Trying out the different chili recipes is a lot of fun. However, let me warn you - most of the chilis are very spicey, some downright dangerously so. And to be fair and honest, some of the chili was so bad, I couldn't eat it. (Not that from the team pictured here, however.)
My favorite of the day used pulled pork rather than beef, and had no beans.
Some teams go to extra lengths to make the affair as festive as possible, and to get festival-goers to try their chili. Besides professional judging, there are also prizes awarded based on the public's favorites.
You don't even want to know.
"Another view of the action on Santa Fe"