Put your hoe down and pick up a spoon | SteamboatToday.com

Put your hoe down and pick up a spoon

Second annual Downtown Hoedown hosts its first chili challenge

It takes Yampa resident George Trujillo between six and eight hours to peel enough chili peppers to make one batch of his award-winning chili.

But Trujillo has plenty of experience. He has been entering contests like this weekend’s Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge for 16 years.

“They are fun just to see if somebody’s got a better chili than yours,” Trujillo said. “Everyone thinks theirs is the best, but I think mine is better.”

Trujillo sees Saturday’s contest – part of the Downtown Hoedown – as a social gathering in which attendees get the chance to talk to other people who share a common interest. He also sees it as an opportunity to figure out other people’s secret ingredients.

The Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge was named after the dish’s origins.

“Back in the old days, people made a lot of chili on chuck wagons when rounding up cattle and traveling with herds from place to place,” said Tracy Barnett, program manager for Main Street Steamboat Springs, which is sponsoring the Downtown Hoedown. “It will be hard to judge this stuff between red vegetarian and lamb chili. I don’t know, we might need 87 different categories.”

Plaques will be given to the first-, second- and third-place winners in the categories of red, green and firehouse chili. A hand-crafted chili tureen made by Deb Babcock will be given to the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Taster kits will be on sale for $5 for people to try the different chilis. There also will be children’s activities, including three-legged races, egg tosses and horseshoes. Live music will be provided by Trevor G. Potter, Danny Schafer and Jebus. And there will be an opportunity to practice square dancing.

“You can watch the 7-year-olds and the 70-year-olds dancing together,” Barnett said. “The caller is from Wyoming, and they will do some demonstrations and then call everybody up to swing everybody around on their arms.”

The petting zoo will be set up by the 4-H Club and most likely will feature llamas, sheep and bunnies.

The idea behind hoedowns was to literally put your hoe down after a long season of hard work and celebrate, Barnett said.

“It happens all over the country,” Barnett said. “We just resurrected the idea for people who haven’t seen each other because they’ve been working too hard all summer. Now they get to come out and play.”

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