Chili Challenge results
First place: Collin's Vermont Cornbread, Creekside Cafe & Grill
Runner up: Kickin' Good Cornbread, Lynn Richmond/ Yampa Valley Medical Center
First place: RL's Famous Salsa, Robert Cooper
Runner up: Cantina's Salsa, Omar and Josh, Cantina
First place: Asian Turkey Chili, Dusty Pfaff
Runner up: White Chicken Chili, Meredith Herndon/YVMC
First place: Mae's Green Chili, Mae Greene
Runner up: Big D's Six Alarm Chili, David Murray/Big House Burgers
First place: George's Green Chili, George Trujillo
Runner up: Wild Board Green Chili, Charlie Noble/Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill
First place: Cattlewomen's Roundup Chili, Rout County CattleWomen
Runner up: You're Not a Chili, Alex and Jared/Mazzola's
George's Green Chili, George Trujillo
Steamboat Springs Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. Dusty Pfaff was awarded first place for her "Asian turkey chili" during Sunday's Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge in Steamboat Springs.
The turnout for the Downtown Hoedown and Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge exceeded Mainstreet Steamboat Springs' expectations so much that it ran out of tasting kits halfway through the Sunday afternoon event.
Event organizer Tracy Barnett said 1,000 kits, which included a small plastic cup, spoon and napkin, were gone by about 1:30 p.m., halfway through the fourth annual fundraiser for the Mainstreet group that promotes downtown Steamboat.
"We only sold 600 the last two years," Barnett said about the $5 tasting kits. "At this point, we're winging it."
Barnett was able to procure some more tasting kits for attendees who crowded Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street between noon and 3 p.m., at times making it a challenge to even walk around.
The crowd, however, didn't seem to deter anyone who wanted to attend the event and taste the chili judged by a panel of six in four divisions: red, green, firehouse and other. The event also had seven salsa and cornbread entrants, up from two last year.
Sam Bolton, of Broomfield, who was visiting Steamboat for the weekend with his wife and three young children, said they were looking for something to do and the Chili Challenge sounded fun.
"I love it - really good chili," he said. "There were a lot more people here than I thought - and booths. I thought it was going to be a lot smaller."
And the crowd only seemed to fuel the mood of the 38 chili competitors, an increase from last year's 27 entrants.
David Murray, kitchen manager at Big House Burgers, was back to defend his title from a year ago in the firehouse division. Murray said this year's version was pretty much the same as last year's, but it had a little more kick to it.
"I've been hearing it's the spiciest of a lot of them," he said. "We're getting repeat customers, which is always good."
Murray was awarded runner-up in the firehouse division, second to Mae Greene. Winners received a plaque and $100 cash.
Michelle McKee, president of the Routt County CattleWomen, said the group had been making and bringing its chili to the event since the first year and won the red chili division two years ago. She said the event allows them to promote beef while fundraising for their scholarship fund, which awarded $10,000 in college scholarships for the 2009-10 school year.
McKee said many of their tasters "came back for thirds, fourths and fifths." The judges also liked their chili. The CattleWomen took first place in the red chili division.
This year, the Chili Challenge was moved up a week to coincide with Mainstreet's Come Sale Away summer sidewalk sale and other Labor Day weekend events. And it was moved to the downtown location from Little Toots Park. Barnett said she thought those were the reasons the event attracted a larger crowd. She said they were "blown away" by the response.
Steamboat resident Dan Bell attended the event for the first time, in part to support his friend Dusty Pfaff, who was awarded first place for her Asian Turkey Chili in the "other" chili division. But that wasn't the only reason.
"They're all really good," he said. "I love chili."
Steamboat residents Jessica Schlapicohl and Jon Cornella also were first-timers. They said it sounded like a good time and even returned after leaving early because it was too crowded.
"It's great," Cornella said. "This is the last summer event before the kickoff of the fall."
George Trujillo, of Yampa, was awarded first place in the green chili and people's choice categories. A veteran of the Chili Challenge - having won in the green and firehouse chili categories in 2007 and people's choice in 2006 - Trujillo said he really wanted to win because he was told by several people he couldn't beat Charlie Noble, of Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill. Noble's Wild Boar Green Chili won the people's choice division the last two years. It was awarded runner-up in this year's green chili division.