Alton, IL cancels chili competition due to health guidelines


While the Belleville chili cook-off was in full swing Saturday, Alton residents learned that their version next weekend has been canceled due to new food safety guidelines from the Madison County Health Department. .

Alton Main Street CEO Sara McGibany told The Telegraph that the future of the Alton Chili Cook-off is being evaluated. The fall tradition began in the late 1980s and draws about 600 people each year.

“Earlier this week, we were informed by the Madison County Health Department that the way the Alton Chili Cook-Off is taking place is not allowed,” McGibany said in a story published Saturday.

“I’m not sure when these particular rules were implemented, but we were asked to take responsibility for planning the event and given the practical guidance in 2013. There was an outbreak of foodborne illness at the Belleville Chili Cook-Off. in 2016, apparently causing area health department regulations to become more stringent.”

In 2016, the St. Clair County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed that several people who attended the Belleville Chili Cook-off that year had tested positive for salmonella.

Alton’s version is much smaller than the one held in Belleville. It runs for four hours (noon to 3 p.m.) on a Saturday in a parking lot along the Mississippi Riverfront, compared to all afternoon and evening (11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.) for two days in downtown Belleville.

McGibany reported that the Madison County guidelines allow for three options: require teams to cook everything on-site, limit participation to restaurants or teams that cook in certified kitchens, or only have judges taste chili and not sell sample tickets. public.

Most Alton crews prepare their chili in their home kitchens and don’t have the time or equipment to do it on-site, according to McGibany.

“This is our biggest fundraising event, and we know that hundreds of people look forward to this fun event every year,” he told The Telegraph. “We certainly share everyone’s disappointment at this development, but we understand that the purpose of the health department is to keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Belleville Chili Cook-off, 38, is sponsored by the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. This year it was held on Friday and Saturday. People thronged East Main Street and Belleville Public Square for chili and other food, drinks and live music.

The winners in the non-restaurant category of the Belleville contest were Truman’s, first place; St. Clair County Fraternal Order of Police, second place; and Gaslight Vinyl, third place.

Winners in the restaurant/catering category were Joe & Onie’s, first place; Copper Fire, second place; and Bank of Springfield serving Chili Corner Chill & Grill, in third place.

lunch crowd chili cookoff.jpg
Downtown was packed for lunch on Friday during the Belleville Chili Cook-off. The 38th annual event featured more than 40 vendors, a cook-off and live music. Derik Holtmann

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