SIMSBURY — A spirited crowd of more than 3,000 enjoyed red hot chili on a beautiful fall day at the 5th annual Simsbury Spooktacular Chili Challenge on Sunday, Oct. 20. The outdoor Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center was filled with families enjoying music, trick-or-treating and entertainment along with plenty of beer and chili sampling.
“We could not have asked for a better turnout,” said Lisa Gray, executive director of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce.
The Professional Competition returned this year with participating local restaurants including The Simsbury Inn, Abigail’s Grille & Wine Bar, Andy’s Italian Kitchen, Avon Country Deli, Benny’s of Simsbury, Iron Horse Pizzeria & Sports Pub, Z Catering at La Figata, McLean + Sodexo, Millwright’s, Plan B, The Riverview, and Soma Grille. The Riverview took home the “Best Darn Chili” title and a Chili Bowl trophy which will be proudly displayed in the venue until next year’s challenge.
Winners in each amateur category were:
1st place: Mike Merola, West Haven
2nd place: Anne Marie Malone, Granby
3rd place: George Panagou, Burlington, Mass.
1st place: Rob Perissi, Simsbury
2nd place: Judi Omerza, Wilkes-Barre, PA
3rd place: Dave Kelley, Loudon, N.H.
1st place: Anne Marie Malone, Granby
2nd place: Stacy Kelley, Loudon, N.H.
3rd place: Judi Omerza, Wilkes-Barre, PA
1st place: Dave Kelley, Loudon, N.H.
2nd place: Robert Perissi , Simsbury
3rd place: Anne Marie Malone, Granby
“This was an extremely competitive field of 21 cooks,” said Gray. “We are so grateful for the generous support of our 34 sponsors that made this outstanding community event possible.”
Taylor Kinsler of NBC CT, Ray Dunaway of WTIC News Talk 1080, and famous local chef Chris Prosperi of Metro Bis were among the celebrity judging panel.
Besides the chili tasting, area children dressed up for a Halloween costume contest and snuck in some early trick-or-treating at the 61 local vendors. Many adults also joined the fun by dressing up in creative costumes. Among the new nuances were a beer garden, serving up local brews for the adults, as well as a rope bridge and bounce house for the kids, and axe throwing for everyone.
Music filled the air with live entertainment from popular bands Still Kickin’ with the Big City Horns, Jake Kulak and the LowDown, and Atlas Gray.
Radio Sponsor 102.9 The Whale had their van on hand, adding to the excitement with promotions and giveaways.