Kalamazoo’s annual chili cook continues in 2021 as an outdoor event


KALAMAZOO, MI – Kalamazoo’s annual chili cooking will continue this year, but with COVID-19 safety precautions, Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership has announced.

Cooking will take place outside this year, with businesses setting up small tents outside their storefronts. Samples will be displayed on tables rather than handed out to each attendee to limit one-on-one interactions, said Director of Events Sue Huggett.

Hand sanitizer will be installed at each chili station, and masks will be needed inside the tents, she said.

The event is free, but the Downtown Partnership is encouraging attendees to purchase a 2021 Commemorative Chili Cooking Spoon online ahead of the event to help organizers gauge crowd sizes and contribute to the event’s budget. partnership.

Related: Crowds gather in downtown Kalamazoo for an annual chili meal

Goal number one is to boost foot traffic around local businesses that are still recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic, Huggett said.

“The community is more than ever listening to local support,” she said. “Even though people don’t want to go down and stand on the chili lines, they can still go down, enjoy the music, enjoy the outdoors, and have take out food and take out drinks.”

Kalamazoo Mall and South Burdick Street will be closed to allow more space to move around. The majority of the 19 participating businesses are located in the Central Business District and Social Zone, which will allow customers to buy take-out food and drink as well.

The Kalamazoo State Theater will host live music from its marquee, similar to State on the Street events this summer. The theater will also serve chili from Old Dog Tavern, Hot Chocolate from Bigby, and open a patio setup for drinks.

In the mall, a DJ will also play throughout the event, Huggett said.

Two businesses, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe and Louie’s Trophy House, are just outside the neighborhood and will have signs pointing customers that way. The Holly Jolly Chili Cart will not be running this year, Huggett said.

Related: Annual Kitchen Brings Free Chili to Downtown Kalamazoo

The downtown partnership worked with the county health department to keep the event within COVID-19 safety guidelines, Huggett said. The organization was confident that it could move forward with the event safely following the success of outdoor events like the 2020 Kalamazoo Holiday Market, she said.

“We’re just trying to appeal to those people who are ready to go out,” she said. “The kids are on Zoom all the time and everything is in the house. We think it’s important for our community to provide a bit of normalcy. “

The chili cook-off will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 27. Customers are encouraged to rate their chilli samples as they are going to be counted for the People’s Choice Prize. Last year Louie’s Trophy House won the award.

The special judges will begin their tasting half an hour earlier this year and announce the judge’s choice award during the event.

Custom spoons can be pre-ordered on the Facebook event page or at Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership website.

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