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Crossroads Chili Cookoff returns Memorial Day weekend

William "Doctor Chili" Senf serves up his special recipe during the People's Choice taste testing at last year's Crossroads Chili Cookoff. The Crossroads Museum hosts the annual event which returns on Memorial Day weekend.

Staff photo by Mark Boehler

By Mark Boehler

Daily Corinthian

Chiliheads are people who love a fantastic bowl of chili.

Those local faithful eaters will be in heaven next month when the Crossroads Chili Cook-off returns to the Corinth Depot.

Professional chili cooks "" some local and others from across Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas and Alabama "" will converge on the Crossroads Museum in downtown Corinth on Memorial Day weekend. They'll vie for cash prizes and a coveted ticket to the International Chili Society World Cook-off held in September in Des Moines, Iowa

A fundraiser for the nonprofit museum, the event will happen over a two-day period this year with the public Crossroads Chili Cook-off on Saturday, May 27 and a private ICS cooks only event called the Mississippi State Chili Cook-off on Sunday, May 28.

"This is huge for us "" it was the next big step," said Crossroads Museum Director Brandy Steen. "The cook-off has been around for 12 years and its been a museum event for three years. It just made sense for us to host a two-day cook-off to give cooks around the country more incentive to come to Corinth."

Categories hosted by the cook-off will include traditional red chili, homestyle chili, chili verde and new this year -- veggie. ICS dropped salsa as an official category.

The public can get excited about their opportunity to eat an unlimited amount of championship chili with the People's Choice portion of the Saturday event.

"For a $5 donation to the museum, a person will receive a chili tasting kit that will include cups, spoons, napkins and most importantly a judges card. After a person taste tests all the People's Choice chili, they'll be able to pick the winner by giving their favorite the card," said Steen. "The cook with the most cards at the end of the day will win the People's Choice $100 cash prize. It's a lot of fun."

Steen said locals who think they can cook a mean chili are encouraged to enter.

Businesses, churches, civic clubs and industries are also welcome to enter a team.

Entry is $35 plus at least one gallon of chili for non-ICS members. Chili for the People's Choice category can be prepared off site. The all-you-can-eat tasting will get started at noon and not end until the chili is gone. Attendees can also enjoy live music and free tours of the museum during the event.

Steen said people to judge the professional categories are also needed.

"We want folks who love chili or can make some great chili or those professional cooks or chefs in the community to step forward and help us out," she added.

While sponsors are still being obtained, Steen said support so far this year is being received from Dodd Eye Clinic, the Daily Corinthian, Sen. Rita Potts Parks, Vicari Italian Grill and the Hampton Inn. She said sponsorship packages are available and benefits include free entry into the chili contest.

(For more information, visit crossroadschilicookoff.com or contact 662-415-8641.)