One of the hottest events in South Shore will take place Saturday as E. G. Simmons Park hosts the 17th annual Chili Cook-off & Car Show.
The fun begins at 10 a.m. with a Roamin' Oldies classic car show of about 60 vehicles. Get there before noon and you can check out the cars and up to 14 amateur chili cooks making huge pots of mild-to-blistering stews with names like Hot Attack, Prescribed Burn and Montezuma's Revenge. All are required to post their recipes, but few reveal their secret ingredients.
There's always lots of smack-talk going on as the contestants compete for cash prizes and try to psyche each other out: "Whoever heard of chicken in chili, anyway?"; "Ours won't burn you face off!"; "Once you've tried No. 4, you don't need any more."
With a $5 admission, each visitor gets an empty bowl to collect as many chili samples as desired, starting at noon. After the tasting, everyone votes for their favorite dish, which determines who wins the People's Choice Award.
Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation & Conservation, the event sponsor, is furnishing this year's panel of judges: Forest Turbiville, from the parks division; Sharon Lynn, from recreation; Ross Dickerson, from conservation; and Sandy Curnow, from administration.
The judges will sample each of the lip-smacking chili dishes and determine which cook gets the $300 for first place; $150 for second; and $50 for third. Prize money was donated by the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.
All winners receive a trophy, including the team who takes the Philip Rogers Smack-Talking Award, named after a deceased longtime supporter of the park. There are also awards for best-decorated booth and judges' choice.
If you want something other than a combination of spiced meats, beans and tomatoes, the Mullet Shack will be on hand. Burgers, hotdogs and beverages will be sold separately.
Last year's cook-off and car show drew 6,800 people and included a flea market. "Park staff chose not to hold a flea market this year," said Mary Clements Fowler, senior program coordinator — special events.
"This year we're concentrating on the chili cookers and car show and introducing a kids area with bouncy houses," said Jason Chilson, senior park manager.
In addition to the $5 admission, there is a $2 per vehicle park admission for up to eight. E. G. Simmons Park is at 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin. For information or directions, call (813) 671-7655.
If You Go
What: E.G. Simmons Park Chili Cook-off
Where: E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. N.W., Ruskin
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; car show at 10 a.m., chili tasting at noon
Cost: $5 for a sampling bowl; $2 per vehicle park entrance fee for up to eight
Information: (813) 671-7655