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Help me plan a chili cook-off

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I had an idea for a fun church gathering (we're a small group...50 or less). Instead of *just* gathering..let's do a chili cook-off! :)


But now what?


Then I thought, even better, this could be an outreach into the community. Maybe we could make this into our version of a fall festival. Thinking late October, costumes welcomed, that kind of thing.


But now what?


Funds are minimal to non-existent, frankly. Our church building isn't grand, but we at least have a parking lot where we could gather outside. No one has enough space at their house for any kind of grand event. Just about any of us could do a street party type deal, but any grander than that...and we have to use the church building/lot, which, as I said, isn't much.


I just feel lost now. I don't know how to plan an event. I don't know just what level to try to take this to.


I just had an idea. :~p


I was trying to get a rough idea of how to pull this off before seriously talking to others about it. Yes, I know, they can offer ideas too, but I think I need to have a rough possible plan in mind so that they, too, can see it as feasible.


Any help?

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as to the event:


remember too big means bathrooms.


I would start small, with church and invitees and see how this year goes.

You can always get bigger.

Perhaps, after the food, you could open it up to trick or treaters in the parking lot.


If you really want a fall festival, have apple cider and apple dunking and pumpkin carving, facepainting (pick some--not all LOL)

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But how do I pull it off? How do I organize it? Get it started? How big do we go? Where do we host? Who cooks?


Our church congregation is so small...we cannot feed the 'community' on our own. So that's where I get stuck..even a neighborhood/street party could quickly overwhelm us.


But I really would like for us to go beyond just a 'church fellowship'.


I need a how-to guide. :~p


The additional foods is the least of my worries at the moment LOL

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Ah, now that's an idea....

Hosting at the church on ToT night...we do our thing...then switch to a trunk or treat deal in the lot ??

Hmm that could work. I'll store that one away. Thanks.


We have several churches around here that do a fall festival of sorts. We could never 'compete' with them. But...we could do this...we could be 'on the way' to other events.

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We had one at our church a few years ago. We opened it up to church families and friends. It's been a while, but I'll try to remember what we did.

1. Put word out, have people sign up to enter their chili, be set up crew, bring cornhole sets

2. Assign extra foods or make it potluck

3. Have at church, everyone brings food in, our church provided bowls,plates, spoons, cups and drinks

4. When you figure out how many people are entering, you can decide if you need to break it up into categories.

5. People voted with change, penny per vote (money was going to missions)

6. Most money was winner, we didn't have any categories because we only had five people enter. I sewed a truly hideous sash ala pagent winner that was bright orange and said something clever with iron on letters that I can't remember and a burger king crown covered in foil

7. Day of, set up crew came early and set up tables and chairs and ran extension cords for crockpots, put out bowls etc.

8. People came and ate, played cornhole (winning team got matching burger king crowns and a fishing trophy from someone's basement) and basically hung out. We did have literature available about the mission if people wanted it. Everyone still there at quitting time helped clean up.

It was a whole lot of fun. We will have to do it again sometime.

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I can't speak to the question of location, because that's not my strong suit, either. However, our church does a chili cook-off every Labor Day, and I'll be happy to share how we do it.


Admission is either one gallon of chili or (a suggested donation of) $5 per person. Volunteers make big pans of cornbread, which is included in the admission "price." Beverages are available to purchase at a small mark-up from cost.


The organizer decorates the hall with chili/southwestern-looking items, including tableclothes in reds and oranges. He also chooses some kind of theme in addition to the chili thing and writes a trivia quiz on that topic. One year, it was movies, for example. One year, it was all about the church, itself. Completed forms get stuck in a box, and a winner is announced toward the end of the event.


Doors open 30 minutes before judging is scheduled, so that everyone can come in and drop off the chilis. There are usually two tables, marked "con carne" and "vegetarian." When we put our entries on the appropriate table, we fill out little cards. On the front goes a name or description for the chili, and our names go on the back (so judging can be done anonymously).


The organizer recruits a few people to taste either the veg or meat entries. The judges taste everything and then retire to vote.


Winners are named in the basic meat and veg categories, as well as "most unusual." Each winner gets a small prize (gift card for local grocery store, bottle of interesting hot sauce, etc.) and the highly coveted chili pepper necklace (like these: http://www.orientaltrading.com/chili-pepper-beaded-necklaces-a2-24_1634-12-1.fltr?Ntt=chili+pepper).


Then, everyone else goes through the line and gets chili to eat.


Profits from admission and beverage sales, minus cornbread ingredients and the cost of prizes, go to the church.


It's not an official part of the event, but at least a few of us usually bring desserts, too. And several families bring board games. After dinner, we all just hang out and socialize for a couple of hours.


It's one of my favorite events during the church year, especially since it falls on a day when we don't usually have anything else to do.


I've won in the veg and unusual categories a few times. So, this year I retired from competition and just took chili to share.


Edit: We also do a Halloween party, by the way. If you wanted to do your chili thing the night of your fall festival, you could expand by offering crafts for kids, music (karaoke?), a scary room/haunted house (if you're into that sort of thing) and all of those typical activities.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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