Hit the speedway for the World Championship Chili Cook-off Sept. 29 and 30

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Head to Illinois for the 52nd annual World Championship Chili Cook-off, which takes place in the St. Louis area for the first time from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois.


“Our intention is to have it stay in St. Louis,” said Scott Toland, president and CEO of International Chili Society, the company that sanctions the event, as well as about 150 cook-offs in 37 states that lead up to the World Chili Cook-off.


“Looking at long-term investments, we think St. Louis is ideal because it’s literally in the center of the country, and we think it has a really good foodie culture, a great craft beer culture and a growing music culture getting more and more recognition,” Toland said.


Unlimited 2- to 3-ounce chili samples will be on offer from 300 cooks in the amateur competition, as well as 20 area restaurants like Salt & Smoke, The Stellar Hog, Grace Meat & Three, Peacemaker Lobster & Crab and more in the pro competition.


Attendees will vote for their favorites as amateur competitors vie for $100,000 in prize money. Amounts vary between categories like homestyle, traditional red and more. Restaurants compete for the Best in the Midwest title, and one restaurant is crowned the winner each day of the event.


Attendees can also receive a 5-ounce glass to try 10 of 100 craft beers, and cider samples available from more than 50 breweries, about 75 percent of which are local, like Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. and O’Fallon Brewery.


Plenty of live music is on tap all weekend, including the Burney Sisters, who were slated to perform at Loufest before it was canceled, as well as Sublime tribute band 40 Oz. to Freedom, the Red Not Chili Peppers, Travis Denning and more.


There are several ticket options available, including a $30 general admission that includes unlimited chili samples and 10 beer tastings, a $15 beer ticket that only includes beer samples, a $15 chili ticket that only includes chili samples, and a $5 ticket for children ages 11 to 17. Admission for children 10 and younger are free. Parking is $5.


Lauren Healey is associate editor at Sauce Magazine.