Chili cookoff file

Damon Sanchez serves up some chili to attendees at a previous Chamber Chili Cook-Off. The event is set to make a comeback in 2021.

After a year off, the Derby Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its sixth annual chili cook-off event, which will be held at Madison Avenue Central Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 2.

On average, the cook-off has featured 20-29 teams vying for the mayor’s choice and people’s choice awards as part of the competition. The last iteration in 2019 saw a crowd of nearly 500 helping with judging duties.

Not much will change with the event in 2021, according to Chamber President and CEO Mark Staats, but Staats did note the Kansas Grown Farmers Market has extended its season this year and will share the stage with the chili cook-off on Oct. 2.

“That’s kind of cool. It’ll really be good for them because we bring a lot of people in,” Staats said.

Currently, Staats reported there are about 15 competitors signed up for the chili cook-off, which is free and open to chamber members (though only serving ladles and portion cups will be provided). The public is able to participate by purchasing taster kits for $5 each and cast their votes for the best chili.

Staats expects a solid turnout with the return of the event and noted plans are in place to bring back the Derby Recreation Commission's cornhole tournament to add to the festivities. He said the League of Women Voters will also be on site, hosting an engagement opportunity with candidates running for local offices.

While easing back into the event after last year’s cancellation, Staats noted the intent is to keep adding on and building up the chili cook-off.

“Our hope for the future is that this grows into more of a fall festival type of thing, but it’s gotta grow at the right pace. It’s gotta be strategic,” Staats said. “It’s meant to be a total community event where people can come out and enjoy good chili, get to see the business community and get to see other people.”

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