18th Annual Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff Slated for Saturday

Committee members are ready to kick off the 18th annual Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff Saturday at Heritage Port. In front, from left, are Olivia Litman, Rose Humway-Warmuth, Brian Warmuth, Miley Rine and Jessica Rine. In back, from left, are Melynda Sampson, Russell Jebbia, Tim Birch and Michele Rejonis.

WHEELING – Combine one part live music, two parts festive atmosphere and a dash of a car cruise for the perfect Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff recipe!

The 18th annual event is set for Saturday, June 1, at Wheeling’s Heritage Port, and organizers are aiming for the biggest and best ever. The event is free and open to the public, but “taster” cups for chili and beverages will be sold by the United Way.

“Proceeds from the Cookoff will benefit the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley,” said Committee Chair Rose Humway-Warmuth. “We’re aiming to break the $10,000 mark again this year!”

The Cookoff has been the traditional kick-off to summer events at Heritage Port. Always the first Saturday in June, the cookoff hours are noon to 6 p.m., rain or shine. This year, Brian Warmuth will reprise his role as “Head Chili.” Entertainment will be provided throughout the day by Rumors and the New Age Adenas. A car cruise will also be held as a part of the cookoff from noon to 4 p.m. at 12th and Water streets. There will be door prizes and dash plaques will be given to car cruise participants. There is no entry fee.

All chili cooks are invited – both commercial, restaurants, individual and now youth, ages 6-17 – to enter the Cookoff, which is presented by the City of Wheeling and sanctioned by the International Chili Society. Humway-Warmuth noted the Youth Division is new this year with Jebbia’s Market supplying some ingredients.

Cash prizes will be awarded in a number of categories. The first prize in Traditional Red Chili will win $2,000, while the second and third will win $300 and $100, respectively. The first prize in Chili Verde, or Green Chili, will win $500. The winners in the Veggie division and in the Youth Homestyle category will win $200, while Homestyle will take home win $300. Other awards will also be given.

The first place winners in all the categories will be eligible to enter the 2019 ICS World Cookoff as well as qualify for the 2019 World Food Championships.

Commercial cooks may also enter the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff, but they compete in a separate division than the individual cooks, and also will receive awards. The Commercial category includes restaurants, businesses, professional/fraternal/educational groups, or a combination of these groups as a team to cook and serve the chili samples.

Commercial entries for this year include: Vagabond Chef Matt Welsch; Ye Old Alpha; Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack; Main Street Bank/TJ’s; Oglebay; River City; Generations/Nailers, Ruttenbucks and Eat’n Park.

“Vendors are welcome with a very minimal fee structure,” Humway-Warmuth said. “Crafts, food and spice products, apparel, jewery – almost all vending sources will be a welcome addition.”

To register for the Chili Cookoff, visit www.chilicookoff.com or call 304-234-3636.

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