Downtown Ithaca Celebrating 22nd Year of Hosting the Region’s Biggest Chili Cook-Off

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Chili, Beer, Wine, & Cider Tastings, Mustache & Beard Competition and more coming Saturday, February 8 to the Commons

ITHACA, NY JANUARY 30, 2020 — Get your palates ready for Downtown Ithaca’s 22nd Annual Chili Cook-Off presented by Maguire Hyundai Subaru Genesis coming to the area on Saturday, Feb. 8.

This highly anticipated community tradition is being held from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Ithaca Commons and its surrounding streets and is set to serve you a variety of sweet, spicy, tangy meat, vegan and vegetarian chilis and chili-inspired items all masterfully crafted by some of the region’s best chefs from 30+ participating restaurants. These culinary experts will be competing for coveted prizes — Best Meat, Best Vegetarian/Vegan, Best Presentation, Best Local Beverage, and People’s Choice awards. Plus, new this year, a Chili-Inspired category is being added to the mix so participants can also vote for their favorite non-chili food items. 

 “We look forward to Chili Cook-Off every year. It’s the perfect opportunity for people to get out of their winter slumber to enjoy some delicious chilis, farm-fresh goodies, and regionally produced ciders, wines, and brews. The public is truly going to enjoy what’s in store for them this year, and we thank Maguire Hyundai Subaru Genesis and City Centre for their support for this ultimate foodie and family-friendly event,” says Scott Rougeau, special events director for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, the event’s organizer.

During the event, Chili Cook-Off visitors can help name the competition’s People’s Choice champion by sampling chilis and vote for their favorites. The grand prize is the famed Chili Cook-Off trophy and plenty of bragging rights!

Ithaca Beer, last year’s People’s Choice winner, is returning to defend its award-winning title. This popular brewery will be serving a mouthwatering cajun chili packed with housemade andouille sausage and turkey from its farm.

Plus, the cook-off will showcase many new competitors including The Strand Cafe, Ithaca Social Pub & Grille, and The Bistro at La Tourelle. Each of these establishments will be presenting a meat chili prepared using their own secret recipes. Also competing for the first time is Angelheart Diner. This plant-based foods restaurant will serve a vegan chili loaded with Ithaca Soy tofu, and, for dessert, chili-infused donuts.

Also, new this year, during the cook-off, the DIA will be hosting a pair of drawings for prizes: win a free Chili Cook-Off Package that includes free chili tastings at all of the stations at the 23rd Annual Chili Cook-Off in 2021 and the supreme title of Most Valuable Pepper and/or win a gift basket full of goodies from many downtown shops and businesses. 

To enter either or both drawings, simply using your Chili Cook-Off tickets. Winners for both of these contests will be announced on Facebook the week after the event.  The raffle booth will be near the event’s ticket booth. 

Of course, a cook-off wouldn’t be complete without having a tasty beverage to complement your meal. Ithaca Beer, Black Button Distilling, Six Mile Creek Vineyard and Distilling, and Wagner Vineyards and Finger Lakes Cider House will each be providing tastings to pair with chili samples throughout the event. 

Participants will also get to enjoy a myriad of fun activities happening during the celebration including The Ithaca Beard & Mustache Club’s annual competition where you’ll get to see the most impressive and stylish beards and mustaches in town. WVBR will also be playing tunes from the Bernie Milton Pavilion to keep the crowd warm and moving throughout the event. 

Presale tickets for this fun-filled, family-friendly foodie event are on sale now at the Downtown Visitors Center (Tioga Street inside of the Center for History and Culture), and at the Downtown Ithaca office, 171 East State St. (Center Ithaca). If you’re coming from out of town or need tickets for a large group, you can reserve tickets online at and pick them up at the Visitors Center on the day of the event. You can also call the Downtown Ithaca Alliance at (607) 277-8679.

As always, you can purchase tickets (cash only) on the day of the event at the event. Tickets are $10 for 10 tastes of food, cider, wine, and beer. VIP tickets are also available and grant you access to a separate and fast-moving line for tastes, plus you’ll receive a stylish chili necklace (while supplies last). VIP tickets cost $20 for 10 tastes and $40 for 20 tastes.

Parking will be available on the surrounding streets and in the city’s three parking garages — Seneca, Green and Cayuga Street. The parking garages will be charging a $5 special event fee.

For additional event information about Chili Cook-Off and its activities, visit or our Facebook Events Page.




Darlene M. Wilber
Communications Manager
Downtown Ithaca Alliance
(607) 277-8679

ABOUT DOWNTOWN ITHACA’S 22ND ANNUAL CHILI COOK-OFF: The 22nd Annual Great Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-Off is presented by Maguire Hyundai Subaru Genesis, supported by City Centre, and organized by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. This annual tradition features chili samples prepared by dozens of local and regional restaurants. Master chefs create tasty concoctions for a chance to receive the titles of Best Overall Chili, Best Meat Chili, Best Vegetarian Chili, People’s Choice Chili and Best Chili Inspired item. Chili Cook-Off also features a farmers market with vendors and food samples, local wineries, breweries. All of Chili Cook-Off’s activities will take place on the Ithaca Commons and surrounding streets. It’s a tradition that the community embraces and enjoys year after year.