Big Bear Lake Chili Cook-Off 


Saturday, July 14, 2018  

630 Bartlett Road

Village of Big Bear Lake. 

FREE Admission

Gates open at 11:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M.



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            BBL Visiters B.jpg      The Big Bear Visitors Bureau is hosting the Annual Big Bear Lake ICS World-Qualifier Chili Cook-Off. The one-day event will feature 40 cooks competing in Traditional Red, Chili Verde, and Salsa categories for $4,000 in prize money.


“The Big Bear Lake Chili  Cook-off tradition returns with more award-winning chili than ever before to feed an army of ‘chiliheads’ and packed with more FUN for all ages,” shared Darien Schaefer, CEO, Big Bear Visitors Bureau. “Bring the family and spend the day with us, sample some great chili, have lunch, enjoy the expanded craft beer, wine and cocktail bar, relax to the hot country sounds from our event stage and bring the kids to the Bear Valley Farms Kids Zone!” he added.


Tasting Kits will be available for sale at $5 each for 12 chili tastings and the opportunity to vote for the 2018 People’s Choice award. Attendees can cool their palate at the craft brew/wine/cocktail bar and umbrella seating garden while relaxing to the sounds of three bands on stage. Along with the abundance of chili other food items for sale will include Mexican favorites, fabulous craft hot dogs, BBQ pulled pork, grilled corn and potatoes, and fun festival treats. Attendees can stroll the artisan marketplace showcasing over 30 vendors featuring hand-made jewelry, clothing, and garden merchandise along with hard-to-find direct sales products that enhance health and lifestyle.


Chili Cook-Off is not just for adults. Kids can play at the Bear Valley Farms Kids Zone all afternoon enjoying a real down-on-the-farm experience featuring a petting zoo for kids to get up close and feed the animals, learn to rope cattle, test their skills at the life-sized checkers and Jenga games, play in the bounce house, get their face painted or just relax in the story time and coloring crafts area. Berry the Bear will make special appearances for photo opportunities.


The Chili Cook-Off stage will feature the hot country sounds of Born Country at 12:30 P.M.

 followed by The Blue Henry’s, a blues band rocking Chicago style, at 2:00 P.M., with headliner I See Hawks in L.A., rounding out the live entertainment at 3:30 P.M.  


The Hawks, founded in 1999 and hailed as Southern California’s leading country-folk-rock band, are noted for their lyrical celebrations and lamentations of earth and ecosphere, odes to the endless highway, and wry social commentary—not exactly the trucks and tight jeans of mainstream country. Their live show, whether all acoustic or hard hitting psychedelic honky-tonk electric, lights up stages from their own high desert to Stagecoach in Coachella, to the folk clubs of UK and Germany.


The awards ceremony is scheduled for 5:00 P.M. on the event stage. Chief Judge, Mark Sweeney, returns to officiate along with scorekeeper, Donny Gordon, and emcee, Mike Austin. Prize money is awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places for Red and Chili Verde; Best Salsa; and the People’s Choice Chili Award.


A new traveling trophy and bragging rights will be awarded to the top Bear Valley cook within the People’s Choice competition. Cooks that win Big Bear and the top spot in Red, Chili Verde and Salsa will be invited to the 2018 ICS World Championship Chili Cook-Off (WCCC) in St. Louis, Mo, September 28-30; the grandest championship of them all. The ICS is the founding and operating organization of the WCCC. The winners in each category will earn the coveted title of World Champion and combined prize money of $100,000!

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Southern California Mountains Foundation and the Big Bear Discovery Center, one of seven programs of this environmental nonprofit. Additional sponsors include the International Chili Society (ICS), City of Big Bear Lake, and Bear Valley Farms.


Parking will be available at public and church parking lots adjacent to and within a short walking distance around the Village. Church lots include Community Church, Presbyterian Church, and Calvary Church. Event and parking signage will be available and strategically placed to direct the public. The Mountain Transit trolley will make its scheduled stops at the Visitors Center; check their complete schedule at 


For more event information, visit Big

About the Big Bear Visitors Bureau: The Big Bear Visitors Bureau is dedicated to promoting Big Bear Lake, a premiere four-season destination, visitor information and promoting events year-round.  

ics-logo-chili-cook-offs-final.jpg About the International Chili Society (ICS): To this day . . . the ICS continues to uphold the same core value of their founders by bringing people together to enjoy healthy competition and America’s great culinary creation - CHILI! Their mission is to continuously improve chili while raising money for charities and non-profits year-round. ICS sanctions and regulates hundreds of cook-offs across the country, like the Big Bear Lake competition, with cooking categories of: Traditional Red, Homestyle, Chili Verde, Veggie, Youth Division and Salsa. How it all started . . . back in 1967, a group of friends started a "friendly" chili competition in Terlingua, Texas.

Why did they start the competition? Well, they all had one thing in common – each thought that he made the best chili and that he knew more about chili than anyone else. So why not prove it . . . a tradition was born! Knowing that chili is Americana, this group of friends recognized that there could be more to it than what they were currently doing. So, the ICS and World Championship Chili Cook-off were born thanks to grown men and women having fun and cooking chili for bragging rights.