Yampa resident Trujillo seeks to continue chili streak in Steamboat
Steamboat Springs — The sixth annual Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge this weekend will offer a new twist — a runner-up award in the people’s choice category. There’s a good reason for the addition.
Handing out a second-place award could allow someone besides Yampa resident George Trujillo to be recognized, Mainstreet Steamboat Springs manager Tracy Barnett said. Trujillo’s “George’s Green Chili” has taken home top honors in the green chili and people’s choice categories the past two years, as well as winning in the Chili Challenge’s first year.
“If he doesn’t win, that’s amazing,” Barnett said. “But if he does, someone else will get some recognition.”
Trujillo will be back to defend his title.
“I want people’s choice,” he said. “That’s what people want ,and that’s the prize.”
The Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday on Eighth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.
Another change for this year: the cost of a tasting kit for attendees increases from $7 to $10, but it also allows for unlimited samples of the various chilis. In previous years, attendees were limited to 10 tastings.
The event is a fundraiser for Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, which promotes the downtown Steamboat shopping and dining district. The Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge also will feature live music from Trevor G. Potter and friends as well as Ragweed.
Last year, Mainstreet sold about 1,200 tasting kits, having to make 200 additional ones after selling out the first 1,000. Barnett said she expects a similar turnout this year.
The Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge will feature about 30 entrants competing in green, red, firehouse and other chili categories, in addition to salsa and cornbread categories.
Winners receive plaques and $100 cash. Runners-up are awarded $50.
After retiring in 2003 as a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific, Trujillo competes in about seven or eight regional chili cook-offs each year with the green chili recipe he’s worked two decades to perfect. Trujillo said he’s been awarded the people’s choice award in the four other chili cook-offs he’s competed in this year.
“This is my hobby. They’re fun,” he said. “The people are great to talk with. And also, my own thing is, I want people to know what great green chili is.”
Trujillo laughed when asked to reveal his secret.
“I can’t tell you,” he said. “Or everybody would be making it, too.”
The event started as the 100th birthday party for F.M. Light & Sons, and the chili cook-off was added the second year. F.M. Light & Sons continues to sponsor the Chuck Wagon Chili Challenge, along with Colorado Group Realty. Creekside Cafe & Grill is donating 10 pounds of beef to each chili competitor.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com
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