Rodeo cook-off hits right notes for families, fun and chili

More than 1,100 in attendance at Sunday tradition

Barry Volk, right, serves Kylee Burdick chili during the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Chili Cook-Off on Sunday morning at the Horseman's Sports Arena. (Abbie Lambert / Republic)

On Sunday morning, community members gathered at the Horseman’s Sports Arena grounds to taste chili cooked by 19 local chili groups.

The Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Chili Cook Off is an annual tradition that began over 30 years ago, according to Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Chili Cook-Off organizer Stan Peterson.

Of the 19 competing groups, Big Daddy’s BBQ defended their title and was awarded the 2019 Chili Cook-Off winning honors, with U.S Bank and Iverson Chrysler Center taking second and third, respectively.

VerHey Lawn Service was picked as the People’s Choice award winner and Sturdevant’s Auto Parts received the Best Camp award.

Like last year, this year’s chili cook-off saw great weather, with temperatures in the mid-70 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.


“We had a very good turnout,” Peterson said. “The weather was decent.”

A long line had already formed at 11 a.m. when the cook-off was opened to community members eager to get their fill of chili cooked by the competitors. More than 1,100 people attended the event, with many being chili cook-off regulars.

Regular attendee Kylee Burdick, of Mitchell, said she always tries to attend the cook-off if she’s not working.

“I come for the chili, absolutely,” Burdick said. “I like the different varieties it offers.”

Peterson made a change to the judging panel last year when he decided to create a panel composed of six individuals picked randomly from the different chili competitors instead of community members.

“I got thinking, who would be the best judges of chili other than the teams making chili. I put all the camp numbers in a hat and I draw out six numbers,” Peterson said prior to the event. “That worked very good last year and that’s what we’re going to do this year.”

Along with the cook-off, attendees had the chance to attend the Family Day events, which featured wagon rides, inflatables, train rides, face painting, family games, hot dogs, soda and snow cones.

Peterson said both events correspond well, making a day full of family, fun and great food.


“The chili cook-off adds to it all,” Peterson said. “Some people just love doing that and they can’t wait for it.”

People stand in a line waiting to get their chili cup at the Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo Chili Cook-Off on Sunday morning at the Horseman's Sports Arena. Coborn's provided the beef for the cook-off. (Abbie Lambert / Republic)

Related Topics: FOOD
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