May the best chilis win

Group of people gathered under a pop up tent, tasting different crock pots of chili - They're not double dipping I swear

Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off returns

If you think you make the best bowl of chili around, here’s your chance to show it off — the Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off, returning to Goffstown Ace Hardware on Saturday, Oct. 22, is a friendly competition and fundraiser that will feature a variety of homemade chilis available to taste from local community members and restaurateurs.
Chili entrants are welcome to bring a slow cooker of their best batches by 10:30 a.m., with sampling beginning at 11 a.m. No pre-registration is required for entrants, nor for tasters who just want to come and vote. Prizes in the form of Goffstown Ace Hardware gift cards — $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place — will be awarded to the winners.
“We started doing it … just sort of casually, and now people are really excited about it, and so we keep doing it in October,” said event coordinator Pat Barss of Goffstown Ace Hardware, who herself took home second place in last year’s cook-off, her first year participating as an entrant.
The cook-off was introduced in 2018 as one of several fundraising events sponsoring Goffstown Ace Hardware owner Karen Henderson’s annual running of the Boston Marathon. While they did have to skip a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, Barss said they experienced a great turnout at last year’s cook-off, with around 15 chilis for attendees to sample.
“There are chili competitions all over … and I guess the word gets out,” she said.
But part of the draw of this cook-off is that you’ll never know what’s in store to taste until the day of. In the past, Barss said the event has been known to feature all varieties of chili, from traditional beef chili to some white chilis, vegan or vegetarian chilis and even a venison chili. While any individual can enter, the cook-off in the past has garnered participation from local agencies like the Goffstown Fire Department, as well as The Village Trestle and some other restaurants in the area. All of the slow cookers are placed under tented tables out in front of the store. Each entrant is assigned a number that’s displayed in front of the chilis, enabling attendees to blind taste each one and vote for their favorite. Some people, Barss said, have even turned the cook-off into their own lunch outing.
“We have little sampling cups … and once it’s gone, it’s gone,” she said. “If most people are there to sample early, then … some of the [slow cookers] are cleaned right out.”
Vote counting will take place at the conclusion of the cook-off around 1 p.m. Donations will also be accepted during the event, with proceeds benefiting Boston Children’s Hospital.

Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off
Saturday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Goffstown Ace Hardware, 5 Depot St., Goffstown
Cost: Free to enter in your chili or attend as a taster; no pre-registration required
Entrants are asked to bring their chilis to Goffstown Ace Hardware by 10:30 a.m. First, second and third place prizes — Goffstown Ace Hardware gift cards of $100, $75 and $50 — will be awarded. Proceeds from gathered donations will benefit Boston Children’s Hospital.

Featured photo: Scene from the Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off.

Author: Matt Ingersoll

Matt Ingersoll writes about all things food and drink, covering new restaurants and following the most delicious foodie trends in the state. Reach him at

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