Thousands expected to try chili at Atenas cook off

Chili is served at a prior event.

Chili is served at a prior event.

They still talk about the batch of chili the Atenas firemen brought to the chili cook off.

“They had this metal tub of chili sitting on top of a huge propane tank,” said Chili Cook Off organizer Mary Cook. “The chili was so spicy it literary brought tears to everyone’s eyes.”

Another organizer, Bonnie Fluke, remembers a chili she would rather not.

“They forgot to cook the beans before putting them in the chili,” Ms. Fluke said. “It was a disaster.”

New memories of unforgettable chilies are about to be made at the Ninth Annual Atenas Chili Cook Off to be held Sunday, Jan. 31.

Event organizers expect between two and three thousand visitors and 20 teams of chili cooks.

The event has been growing exponentially and now attracts people from all over Costa Rica, Ms. Cook said.  That’s a far cry from the first cook off, which was organized by Tom and Kay Costello, former owners of Kay’s Gringo Postres.

“The first cook off was held at their restaurant in Atenas,” Ms. Cook said. “It made all of two hundred dollars.”

Organizers of this year’s mega event hope to raise $15,000 for Hogar de Vida, which provides care for at-risk children in Costa Rica. Cook off organizers hope to use the money to help Hogar de Vida buy a tractor so organic food can be grown on its property.

In addition to chili tasting, the cook off will feature live music in the beer garden, rodeo events, bingo and fair vendors. The cook off is now held at the Sabana Larga Park bull ring 1 mile west of Atenas just off Ruta 3. Event hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Admission is 2,500 colons for adults, children under 10 are admitted free.

And oh yes, do expats have a winning chili? They still have time to be a participant.
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