When there's a chill in the air, nothing warms better than a hearty bowl of chili. But which chili is the best chili?
That's what participants in this Saturday's Courtyard Octoberfest will help to determine. As part of this seasonal celebration, more than 20 local bars and restaurants have agreed to cook up a big batch of their best for a Chili Cook-off.
For $5, those attending can sample every kind of chili available, then cast their vote for their two favorites. At the end of the competition, the top vote getter will receive a cash prize, a traveling "chili bowl" trophy and bragging rights.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Courtyard chefs J.D. Hilla and Ryan Barnard and owner Chris Bauer-Carlson show of the “chili bowl” trophy that’s up for grabs in this Saturday’s Chili Cook-off.
"We're just trying to have some fun, bring an event where it's a friendly competition and bring lots of people out on a Saturday," said Lora Bauer-Carlson, who owns the Courtyard along with her husband, Chris Bauer-Carlson.
The festival starts at 1 p.m., with the Chili Cook-off slated for 3-5 p.m.
This fun fall event isn't just about the chili either. The couple also has planned lots of hay and pumpkins to set the scene, music by the Birch Road String Band, more than 18 microbrews, brats and sauerkraut, and the chance to watch football on the big screen.
Young Appliance has agreed to provide the big screen television for the afternoon, and a tent will be erected on site in case of rain.
Lora Bauer-Carlson said she and her husband earlier this year held an outdoor event on the 4th of July that featured live music, food and beverages. The public seemed to really enjoy it, she said, and many who attended suggested that they plan something for the fall.
"We are really hoping this event exemplifies the warmth, kindness and community spirit Alpena is known for," she said.
Her husband agrees.
"It's a chance for the community to get together with all the area bars and restaurants in a fun family event," Chris Bauer-Carlson said.
He has attended a similar event and suggests that participants bring a cupcake tin in which to put their chili samples.
"That seemed to work really well because then you get 12 samples at once," he said.
The Courtyard will be serving up its own homemade chili along with the other contestants, but will not be eligible to win the competition.