Chili'N on the Elk – Chili Cookoff / Beer & Wine Festival

By Candace Nelson - 9:50 AM

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

The Chili'N on the Elk – Chili Cookoff / Beer & Wine Festival was held on Saturday in Clendenin.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

I was really excited to be able to judge the chili portion, which included traditional, homestyle and salsa.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters 
For many folks, chili cookoffs are a very competitive sport. Sure, some do it just for fun. But for others, it's serious, and they go on to bigger competitions. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters  
The Clendenin event is an ICS-sanctioned event, so the winner automatically qualifies for the World Championship Chili Cook-off held in Myrtle Beach in 2022.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

The ICS guidelines say that homestyle chili must have beans, but it can also have all kinds of other fillers and flavors.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

Homestyle Chili
Homestyle Chili is any kind of meat, or combination of meats, and/or vegetables cooked with beans, chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients. Homestyle chili may be any color. Beans are required. Preference is not given to either cut meat, ground meat, shredded meat or cubed meat. Seafood is allowed. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

But traditional red cannot include beans and tends to be pretty straight-forward.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

Traditional Red
Traditional Red Chili is any kind of meat, or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients. Beans and non-vegetable fillers such as rice and pasta are not allowed. Preference is not given to either cut meat, ground meat, shredded meat or cubed meat.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

During each of the three rounds - salsa, homestyle and traditional - there is a table with numbered containers.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

We have no clue whose is whose, and we take a sample of each and write down notes. Then, you rank your top three at the bottom. I usually take a spoon to each one, with palate cleansers like tortillas or sour cream in-between, and then go back for a second taste on my top three to confirm their rankings.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

It really is a lot of fun to think intently about the flavors and how they differ - especially when some chilis are so similar. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

There were some really tasty ones - I love the ones that have a different spin on them and are really well balanced. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

So, while all the delicious chili tasting is going on, there is also a whole other side to the festival that includes beer.  Local breweries and wineries like Greenbrier Valley, The Peddler, Weathered Ground, Big Timber Brewing, Screech Owl, Forks of Cheat Winery, Swilled Dog, Hawk Knob, Bridge Brew Works, Freefolk, Parkersburg Brewing, Stumptown Ales, and Chestnut Ridge were on the slate. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

On top of all the chili and beer, there were also vendors. One that I stopped at was Elk Valley Crafters. They had all kind of goodies!

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

From honey and maple syrup to candles and cookies, Elk Valley Crafters had a lot. I purchased some whipped honey that was chocolate flavored (they suggested dipping graham crackers in it - how good would that be!), as well as some butterfinger cookies AND a candle that I have yet to burn.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

What an awesome small business that's really making the most of what they're producing. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

It was a great day to explore Clendenin. 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

My friend Todd showed me the space where there is going to be a "bed & brewery."

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

So, I can't wait to come back to check that out! 

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

While here, I was also able to check out some other local restaurants that day.

Chili’n on the Elk & Elk Valley Crafters

So, stay tuned for those! 

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