Top 10 Ways to Make the Most of “Chili & Charros,” the Sixth Annual San Miguel International Chili & Charros Cook-Off

By Lisa Tyson Sandefer

1. Come hungry and come early! Free chili and charros tasting runs from 1-4pm. Your cup, spoon and voting materials will be in a goodie bag you receive when entering the beautifully refurbished grounds behind Hotel Real de Minas. Strolling mariachis will be serenading as you wander and taste. Some amazing cooks, competing for fabulous prizes, will serve up everything from spicy Texas to green to vegetarian chili, and more kinds of Mexican charro beans than you knew existed!!

Sixth Annual Chili & Charros Cook-Off Benefit for San Miguel Community Foundation (SMCF) Sat, Jan 28, 1-8pm. Advance Sale 130 pesos/@ gate 150 pesos/under 10 free. Hotel Real de Minas.

2. Involve your taste buds but don’t forget the ambience! People decide which chili is best, and contestants will try to win your vote not only with their chili, but with creative booth décor and charm. No propinas allowed, except extra helpings. Taste as many chilis as you can, ask questions, maybe you’ll get a recipe. Voting ballots get deposited at the information booth, which will be clearly marked.

3. Start a bidding war! After you’ve had your fill of chili, visit our amazing silent auction tent, which has been called “the best little store in San Miguel.” It’s chock-full of fantastic items like jewelry, art, art and more art, trips, hotel nights, spa treatments, things for the house, services, meals, beautiful one-of-a-kind denim jackets handmade by local artists and much more. Bid prices start at 50% of retail value, so there are some great deals to be had. This year, we’ve added a “buy now” feature if you find a special “must have.”

4. Visit the sponsor tents! This event would not be possible without the generous cash donations of our sponsors: La Esmeralda, Harry’s, Mezcales de Leyenda, Longhorn Smokehouse, Las Ventanas, Guajuye, and Cumpanio.

5. Watch, learn, bring family and camera! San Miguel’s Team Sorting organization will conduct a very special competition in the rodeo ring from 2:30 to 4:00.

6. Sustain yourself! We’ve got seven hours of fun in store for you and we know that everyone needs more than chili to keep the party going. So… in addition to the Longhorn Smoker’s fare, there will Mexican “street food,” featuring authentic tacos, quesadillas, gorditas, churros, elotes, and even chicken mole. The prices are ridiculously low!

7. Bring the kids! We’ll have plenty of face painting, donkey rides, bouncy houses, a jungle gym, and a balloon-making clown as part of the activities planned for the dedicated kids’ area. And it’s all free!

8. Dance it off, dance til you drop, snap your fingers, tap your feet … In addition to the mariachis kicking off the day, we’ll have the fabulous Maria, La Corporacion, and Vudu Chile with David Garza, who is coming back to perform for us. Estudiantinas Tuna Real de Pablo Tellez, will liven up the Awards ceremony.

9. Show your San Miguel pride! Many contestants and judges come from the States to participate in the Cook-Off. Over the years, we have faced many challenges convincing our northern neighbors to join us in Mexico, but this year, they are coming in full force! So please be San Miguel goodwill ambassadors, and let our out-of-town guests know how wonderful it is to be in San Miguel. We want them to come back, and not just to cook chili! Speaking of showing San Miguel pride … Texan Larry Walton, the reigning Chili Appreciation Society World Champion, (CASI) will attend and compete. Larry and his wife, Grace, are visiting San Miguel for the first time. Look for them and say hello.

10. Let loose! Chili & Charros is San Miguel’s largest single-day event, and we’re sure you’ll know plenty of those attending, participating or volunteering. To help keep you going all day, sponsor El Tinieblo will be serving its very own brand of amazing mezcal drinks. There will be two other bars pouring plenty of other liquid refreshments (soft drinks, too) at modest prices.

It’s a great day for San Miguel, the San Miguel Community Foundation, and for everyone involved. We hope you will enjoy Chili and Charros 2012 to the fullest.

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