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Texas chili time: Southwest regional and New Mexico cook-off also features car show

Check out some of the best chili makers from around the country go head to head this weekend for a chance to cook at the world championships in October.

The International Chili Society is holding the Regional Chili Cookoff and New Mexico State Chili Cookoff Championships on Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6, at Route 66 Casino Hotel. Winners will advance to the world championship in October in Reno, Nev.

“There are three different contests,” said Skip Sayre of Laguna Development Corp. “There is a salsa, green chile or chile verde, and there is a (Texas) red chili. We have three contests simultaneously every day and we have the green chile or chile verde people cook, and we taste, and the last contest is the Texas red chili. The winner of each of the cookoffs wins a spot in the world championship. There are three (contests) on Saturday and three on Sunday.”

For those unfamiliar with Texas red chili, it is defined by the International Chili Society as meat sauce and spices.

Cooks come from all over New Mexico and throughout the country, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas. For the cook-off, there will be 20 to 25 chilis being cooked on Saturday and Sunday, both red and green. There are typically 10 to 15 salsas entered into the competition. There also have been world champions who have participated in the regional and state cook-off since they have to requalify every year, according to Sayre.

“The competition is fierce,” he said. “The quality is extremely high.”

Cooks are not charged to enter the competition and instead are asked to make 2 gallons of chili for a chance to win the People’s Choice Award. Eventgoers can purchase a tasting kit for $5 to sample the People’s Choice chilis and vote for their favorite. Proceeds go toward a community organization. About $2,000 is usually raised each year. In conjunction with the cook-off, Route 66 will also hold its Calendar Car Show. It will feature 300 to 400 cars. Prizes will be awarded in a number of different categories, including best of show. The top 12 cars will appear in the Route 66 2018 calendar.