Mitchell Park in Palo Alto was swarmed with eager chili eaters Wednesday, July 4, for the 31st annual Palo Alto Summer Festival and Chili Cook-Off. Thousands of people attended the popular event, including many families. Attendees danced and scarfed down spoonfuls of chili while listening to live music by The Hitmen.
Seventeen chili teams competed for prizes ranging from "Best Decorated Booth" to "Best Overall Chili." There were also "People's Choice" and "Youth Choice" winners, as selected by attendees of the event. Chili team Elmo & the Old Quackers won "Best Booth" for its "Wizard of Oz" decorations that included an Emerald City facade.
One group that took part this year was Project Safety Net, which was founded in 2009 to implement a community mental-health plan for Palo Alto youth in response to a local cluster of teen suicides. Students were on the "Asset Builders Chili" team along with adults, promoting the concepts of positive adult role models and youth participation in the community.
"The cook-off is a great tradition, and this team that represents so many parts of the community is an embodiment of the spirit of Project Safety Net and the spirit of the cook-off," said Terry Godfrey, the team's head cook.
The cook-off has become a widely attended local event. At least five new teams faced off against groups of returning chefs, said Minka van der Zwaag, city supervisor of recreation programs. Van der Zwaag estimated that about 5,000 people attended the cook-off this year.
The event included disco, funk, soul and Latin music by The Hitmen; line dancing with Hedy McAdams; food vendors; and face-painting and other kids' activities.
In the "Corporate Division" -- which the city described as "any business, non-profit, community or service organization, or other formal organization from which you have recruited your team" -- the competing teams were Whole Foods Palo Alto, Wow! Catering, Palo Alto Professional Fire Fighters Local #1319, Ada's Cafe & the Magical Bridge, Team Vineyard, Palo Alto Family YMCA, The Counter and Asset Builders Chili.
In the "Open Division" (for any team not considered to be "corporate"), the competing teams were The Toques, Margarita-Meata Chili, Mas Bueno Chili, Rich Chili, Chili Hut, One Love, Good King Wench and Lass, Lounge Lizard Chili and Elmo & the Old Quackers.
Palo Alto Online will post a video highlighting the event tomorrow, July 6.
Did you attend the Palo Alto Chili Cook-Off? Send us your photos.
This year's Palo Alto Chili Cook-Off winners were:
Best Overall: Lounge Lizard Chili
Best Spirit: Ada's Cafe & the Magical Bridge
Best Booth: Elmo & the Old Quackers
People's Choice: Palo Alto Professional Fire Fighters Local #1319
Youth Choice: Palo Alto Professional Fire Fighters Local #1319
First Place: Lounge Lizard Chili
Second Place: Rich Chili
Third Place: Chili Hut
First Place: Team Vineyard
Second Place: Whole Foods Market Palo Alto
Third Place: Palo Alto Professional Fire Fighters Local #1319