Chili Cook-Off turns up the heat and kicks into gear

Hot Rod: (Top left) Chevy ‘38 Business Coupe is one of more than 100 cars on display at the Chili Cook-Off for the Car/Cycle Show on May 24. (Top right) Miguel Diaz of The International Chili Society cleans up after he ran out of chili mid-day when crowds swarmed the stands. Crowds also enjoyed sunshine, face painting, balloon animals and bounce houses along Magnolia Avenue.

Hot Rod: (Top left) Chevy ‘38 Business Coupe is one of more than 100 cars on display at the Chili Cook-Off for the Car/Cycle Show on May 24. (Top right) Miguel Diaz of The International Chili Society cleans up after he ran out of chili mid-day when crowds swarmed the stands. Crowds also enjoyed sunshine, face painting, balloon animals and bounce houses along Magnolia Avenue.

Tyler Reese | Staff writer

May 29, 2014

From hot chili to hot-rods, Riverside’s 12th annual Inland Empire Regional Chili Cook-Off & Car/Cycle Show had something for everyone.

The chili booths, cars, and live entertainment filled the streets of Magnolia Avenue from Van Buren Avenue to Jackson Street May 24.

Vendors, beer gardens and a petting zoo were also found at the cook-off.

“It’s good to get out of the house and see a lot of new faces,” attendee Georgy Lascano said.

There was a major turn out at the cook-off from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. when both sides of Magnolia Avenue were stuffed. Not only was attendance good, but the amount of cars and motorcycles that entered into the show
was better.

“The Chili Cook-Off was a great place for family and friends to walk around and try different kinds of chili, look at cars and have a good time,” said Jazmine Flores, a Riverside City College student.

Despite a morning with overcast weather and high humidity the sun eventually came out and brightened everyone’s day.

“I always enjoyed the atmosphere the Chili Cook-Off gives off,” said Robert Sanchez, a car show contestant. “From children’s laughter to people’s amazement it’s something really special.”

The car show consisted of cars, SUV’s and trucks from different eras. Even Stater Brothers brought out their old refurbished delivery truck and showed it off in front of the store.

“I’ve been taking my 1969 SS Chevelle to this car show for the last few years to show off all of my hard work,” Sanchez said.

Many of the cars featured in the car show are older makes that have been refurbished from the ground up and put on display by the owners for others enjoyment.

Riverside City Colleges Culinary Academy was also at the Chili Cook-Off promoting their department and selling chili the students made for five dollars. Their booth was located next to the Bank of America and Community stage.

Across the street next to the family dollar store on the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Donald Avenue was a rock-climbing center with air inflated mats and safety harnesses.

There was also a petting zoo, which consisted of goats, alpacas and even a yak. In the petting zoo was a special area to ride a pony of your choice.

The number of vendors easily out numbered the cars and chili tasting booths.

“It had great food vendors and drinks,” Lascano said.

The McDonald’s vendor at the cook-off had such a long line it was like a snake navigating through the crowd: all because they were giving away free mini McCafe Frappe’s consisting of Carmel or their new flavor Horchata.

After first starting in May 2002 with little or no support, the Chili Cook-Off has expanded and grown in popularity to an annual expectation from the surrounding community. For many people memories can and have been made from the Chili Cook-Off winners to the car show attendees and their families.