AMESBURY — The calendar may suggest cool fall temperatures, but on Saturday it will be downright hot inside the Barking Dog Bar and Grill parking lot as firefighters from across the region will be competing in the Amesbury Fire Department’s annual chili cook-off.
In what will be the ninth iteration of this family-friendly event, teams from local firefighters, hospitals and paramedics will whip up batches of their best chili with the hope that a panel of judges will deem their creation the best of the best.
“It’s a great family event,” Amesbury firefighter and chili cook-off organizer Iain McGregor said.
The fun begins Saturday at noon and goes until 4 p.m. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people are likely to spend part of the afternoon there, added McGregor.
Those not into chili still can have a blast at the community event as local businesses and firefighters will join forces to provide food, drinks, treats, souvenirs, games and family fun. There will be a DJ spinning tunes and a bouncing fun house for children too, McGregor said.
Entry is $5 with children under age 12 getting in for free. All proceeds go to local charities. Over the years, the contest has evolved from a strictly local affair to one that attracts teams and attendees from across the region. Last year’s event was won by the Reading Fire Department with the Amesbury Fire Department’s probationary firefighters coming in second. Rounding out the top three finishers was a team from the Andover Fire Department. The people’s choice award went to Andover firefighters. This year, local firefighters will strive to displace Reading firefighters, who have won the event two years in a row.
Thankfully, the weather is expected to cooperate, according to McGregor, who said temperatures are to remain cool and fall-like.
“Which is perfect for chili and drinking beer,” McGregor said.
So far there are 10 teams signed up to compete, including eight emergency responder teams and two local businesses. One thing that sets Amesbury’s chili cook-off apart from others is that all the food is prepared on scene starting at 8 a.m. So by the time crowds start arriving at noon, the food is ready to go. Typically, the chili goes very quickly, sometimes leaving teams empty by the time the people’s choice portion of the contest begins.
“It’s definitely different than your typical chili contest,” McGregor said.
For more information on Saturday’s chili cook-off, contact McGregor, president of Amesbury Firefighters Local 1783, at 978-388-1333.