Saturday October 15th marks Group Therapy’s 19th annual Chili Cook off. Chili Cook Off is a well known annual event located outside group therapy on Greene Street and since I’ve worked the last three its my duty to inform and shamelessly plug Group Therapy every chance I get. Every year this local event raises thousands of dollars to help local charities. This year Group’s Chili Cook Off Will donate money to Camp Kemo and The Hope Center of Charleston.
So come one and all to Group Therapy’s 19th Annual Chili Cook Off, but what exactly is the Chili Cook Off? Well just as the name implies there is plenty of chili but what else? Lets familiarize ourselves with not only what the Chili Cook Off is but also with what there is to do, and finally what exactly Camp Kemo and The Hope Center are.
As stated earlier Chili Cook off is an annual charity event. Every year chili chefs from around the state gather in Columbia to see who is the best of the best. First off in order to enter one must Log on to the Group Therapy web site and fill out an application on line. Once received you are entered. Last year there were over fifty entries which means there were over fifty different varieties to try. Chilies range from hot and spicy to unusual and exotic. Trophies are awarded for the winners of eight categories.
The Categories are People’s choice, Best Hot Chili, Best Bar/Restaurant, Best Vegetarian, Most exotic, Best American Hero’s Chili, Best Overall, and finally Best Overall Set Up. Most of these are self explanatory but I’ll take a little time to clear up any confusion. Best hot, vegetarian and overall really need no further explanation. People’s Choice is chosen by the public. People purchase tickets in turn they trade the tickets for cups of chili. Whoever has the most tickets wins.
The best American Hero’s chili category is only for those in law enforcement and those in the armed forces. Best Overall Setup is for those that put in a little extra effort and dress up for the occasion. For example the Pirate chili last year. All the guys dressed like pirates and cooked in a big cauldron. The Best Bar or restaurant Category is only for Local bars and restaurants. And Finally the most exotic category where competitors in the past have thrown in fillet and even a little alligator.
The streets are blocked off at around 8:30am. All the competitors arrive shortly after at 9 am to set up. At 10 am they have the cooks meeting where they go over the events rules. The meeting is quickly followed by the lighting of the flames at 10:30am. Then the cooks continue to cook there chilies until 1pm when the first cups are served. Then its up to the judges. Judges finish around 7pm and the winners are promptly announced.
Ok so now that we all know the order of things what else is anything is there to do other than gorge yourself on chili. Well for starters your going to need something to wash down all that chili with and we have exactly what you need. Throughout the street there are draft trucks so you can belly up and get a pint of your favorite ice cold beer.
Beer not your thing well there is a full bar inside so you can have any cocktail your heart desires, but be warned liquor is not allowed on the streets and there will be plenty of gentlemen in blue who will be quick to write you a ticket. So now you’ve got your chili and your beer. What else could you possibly want?
Music. Lots of live music. At the far end of the street there is a stage and at exactly 1:30pm the party starts jumping with the sounds of Breaking Cadence followed by many other talented acts leading up the grand finale and Harmony Grove. Great we’ve got the adults satisfied but what about the kids? Well everyone is in luck this is a family event and there will be games set up to occupy the kids so mom and dad can relax listen to some live tunes and have a couple of drinks.
Great food, cold beer, and live music. It just doesn’t get any better than this right. Well it does seeing as how by you having a good time you can contribute money to two great charities. Camp Kemo and The Hope Center of Charleston. Camp Kemo is located at Camp Kinard in Leesville, South Carolina and lasts an entire week in July. Even though the operating cost is $500 per child the children and their families pay nothing due to private donations and different civic organizations and events such as Group’s Chili Cook Off.
Camp Kemo provides “a normal camping experience for children with cancer and their siblings.” The children range in age from five to eighteen years of age. Camp Kemo allows children with cancer to spend time with other children who are going through the same things as well as allows their brothers or sisters to come with them for support. It also gives the parents of the children a week to rest and takes their children to a new environment where they receive care and support.
The Hope center in Charleston is a small part of a worldwide charity organization. According to their website Hope’s mission is “to bring hope to a hurting world.” Hope “treats the sick, feed the hungry, house the homeless, comfort the downcast, educate the poor and provide loving homes for the abandoned.” The Hope Canter has been active in South Carolina for the last 11 years. In that time they have helped to educate and develop the communities around them.
So remember don’t make any plans on Saturday October 15th. You now know what Group Therapy’s Chili Cook Off is but just don’t take my word for it. Come see for yourself and enjoy the festivities. Not to mention as much chili and Ice cold beer you can stomach all while helping our fellow brothers and sisters.