Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge returns to Steamboat for Labor Day weekend |

Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge returns to Steamboat for Labor Day weekend

Luke Graham

Char Mighton pours some of the Routt County CattleWomen's chili into a cup during the Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge in 2011. This year's event is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Eighth and Oak streets.

— Ever since Mae Greene can remember, her 10-year-old son, Charlie, loved cooking and spicy things.

The two used cooking chili as a way to bond and enjoy good food.

Mae Greene is no stranger to chili or the annual Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge. She's won in the firehouse category several times, often her with Charlie as her assistant.

But this year, Charlie wanted to do his own white chicken chili.

"He has always liked things that are spicy," Mae Greene said. "We've been trying to perfect this recipe. His last edition had jalapenos. It had quite a kick."

The annual cooking content returns to Steamboat on Sunday. The event goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will take place at Eighth and Oak streets. The cost for a taster kit is $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and younger. The event serves as a fundraiser for Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. The event also will have margaritas and beer for sale, a bouncy house for children and music by Trevor G. Potter and Ragweed.

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This year, Mainstreet Manager Tracy Barnett said there are 23 entries in the four categories, which include red, green, other and salsa.

Barnett said Mainstreet will be ready with 1,200 taster kits after the event sold 1,100 last year. Because of the event’s popularity, chili began running out at about 1 p.m. last year.

"We encouraged (the competitors) to make more and for people to get there early," Barnett said.

In addition to individuals competing, Steamboat Meat & Seafood Co., Rex's American Grill & Bar, Creekside Cafe and Grill, Sweetwater Grill and Cantina Mexican Restaurant will have entries.

They all could be chasing Charlie, though.

The fifth-grade student at Soda Creek Elementary School spent the past couple of days roasting chilies and dialing in his recipe.

"Chili is kind of my go to," he said.

Like any good cook, Charlie wouldn't reveal the secret to his recipe. He said he loves to cook and someday hopes to be a cook if he can't find a way to continue playing football.

But Charlie understands something else, too: There aren't many things that pair together as well as football and chili.

"It's good to eat chili and watch football," he said.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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