Chili contest adds heat to Smoke on the Water

Published 6:49 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

Wanted: contestants for Smoke on the Water’s chili cook-off. Rewards: $500 and trophy for first place, $300 and trophy for second place and $100 and trophy for second place.

The contest entries usually include traditional red chili, green chili and chicken chili.

Friday is the deadline to enter the cook-off set for Oct. 20. The fee for one entry is $25, or $40 for two entries. For more information, including contest rules and entry forms, about the contest, visit and click on the “Chili Cook-Off” icon. The contest occurs at the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce parking lot, but chili is cooked offsite and brought to the contest area.

Contests can begin registering and setting up at 9 a.m. The cooks’ meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. Judging begins at 10 a.m.

“We’re expecting a lot more people to come to the festival because there’s going to be 200 Shriners in town we found out. We’re going to have a lot of extra people, so we’re going to need all the chili we can get,” said Pamela Anderson, a member of Washington (noon) Rotary, which puts on the festival, and one of the event organizers. “We just need people to enter the contest. There is good prize money.”

Cindy Baldwin, chief organizer of the cook-off, said although the deadline for contestants to enter the contest is Friday, “quite frankly we take them up to the last minute. I’m like, hey, all I’ve got to do is give them a place at the table.” Baldwin said the annual cook-off attracts about 20 contestants.

This year, instead of assigning contestants serving sites along the tables, those locations will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis, Baldwin said.

The Smoke on the Water chili cook-off is not sanctioned or sponsored by the Chili Appreciation Society International or any other chili-cook off organization.

“Chili is defined many different ways. Some of the ingredients such as spices, chili pepper and beans are to the cooks’ preference. Commercial chili powder is permissible, however complete commercial chili mixes (‘just add meat’ mixes that contain pre-measured spices) are NOT permitted. No condiments/toppings (i.e. cheese, sour cream, scallions, onions, etc.) will be allowed on chilies to be judged. Entrants may serve condiments/toppings with their chili served to the public,” according to the contest’s rules and guidelines.

Mica Candena, an on-air talent at WRNS radio station, is one of the contest’s judges. A West Craven High School graduate, she works with several area animal shelters and animal-rescue entities. Mike Voss, a retired Washington Daily News journalist who continues to contribute to the newspaper, is a veteran Smoke on the Water chili contest judge. Other cook-off judges will be announced later.

For complete contest details and more information, call Cindy Baldwin at 252-341-6627 or send email to


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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