No matter the weather – hot, mild or even cold – it's chili weather in Wichita every September. That’s when the Wagonmaster's Downtown Chili Cookoff brings 70 teams of chili makers to the streets of downtown Wichita, where they compete to be named the best chili in the city.
You can get in on the action with a $5 tasting kit that can be purchased at the event. Public tasting starts at noon and you’ll be able to sample more than 70 varieties of chili and salsa made by teams from Kansas and surrounding states. Competitors include cooks vying for a spot in the World Championship Chili Cookoff, groups of co-workers or friends cooking for fun, non-profits and restaurants. Chili categories include no beans, chili verde, red chili, home-style chili, anything goes and there’s also a salsa competition.
Get there early, as recent chili cookoffs have attracted between 9,000-12,000 attendees. The event has been a Wichita tradition for more than 32 years, and attendance has exploded since 2005 when the Wagonmasters took over the event and brought it back downtown.
The cookoff closes down Douglas between Topeka and the railroad tracks, along with some side streets. In addition to chili, visitors can enjoy other activities including live music, a beer garden, children’s activities, wacky contests and more.
For more details about the Wagonmaster’s Downtown Chili Cookoff, check out their website.