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In its 12th year, Mountain Chili Fest still growing

  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

    Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

    Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

    Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.
  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.
  • Images from the 2013 Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest at Pats Peak Ski Area.

While Pats Peak is usually known for its colder weather offerings, there will be plenty of smoking hot fun to be found there this weekend.

The Henniker Rotary Club will host the 12th Fire on the Mountain Chili Fest on Sunday at Pats Peak Ski Area. This family-friendly event has been known to draw thousands to its tasting tables all the while raising money for charity.

“It’s just a family-friendly enjoyable day,” said Mary Krotzer, chairwoman of the event. “We want people to come and enjoy the chili, we work very hard to ensure that we get a very good, cross section of restaurants as well as amateurs that are able to make chili that will appeal to a broad range of tastes. And we believe people really do come for the chili.”

In fact, Ruth Zax, who’s also working on the event, said this year organizers saw an uptick in the number of participants from 13 to 16 restaurants and from 20 to 22 amateur participants.

“I think more and more people are returning and continuing to do the event and new people hear about it and want to participate,” she said. “I also think we’ve got a rivalry between service clubs going on.

“The Concord Rotary is entering their WOW chili, named after their Weekend on the Water event that’s coming up. And then the Henniker Lyons Club is participating. So I think there will be an internal chili cook-off between the two service clubs. So I think that will be fun.”

Organizers are anticipating there being between 30 and 40 of the region’s best chilis, including everything from veggie chili, to green chili and Texas style. Although Zax pointed out that to accommodate families with kiddos who may not want to expand their palates with fire hot chili, there will be (for added cost) a food court that includes barbecue from Arnie’s Place in Concord, roasted corn, and hamburgers, and hot dogs from the Henniker and Hillsboro fire departments.

Kids will also have a chance to play in the KidZone. Coordinated by the staff from Henniker’s White Birch Community Center, there will be games, crafts, a giant slide and other fun activities for a wide age range of children. Employees of Michael’s craft store in Concord who will be on hand decorating sun visors with the children. And Max, from the Manchester Monarchs, will be greeting attendees and hosting a slap shot game.

Zax said this year organizers also brought back the Tap Snap, an interactive photo booth where, after the photo is taken, participants can add graphics, props and drawings to the photos and then instantly upload it to social media.

“Photo booths are really popular at events, like weddings and things, so basically it’s a very open concept and highly interactive,” Zax said.

And after a year’s hiatus, there will also be a vintage car and truck cruise in.

“We had a car show attached to this for a number of years,” Zax said. “But since the cars and trucks are so dependent on weather, we decided not to do it last year. But so many people, asked for the cars back, we decided to do a car cruise in.”

Rounding out the fun, organizers will be selling ball caps with the Chili Fest logo as well as commemorative chili glasses which allows the purchaser one free beer fill up.

“I’m most excited about having the variety that we have to cater to the public,” Kotzer said. “Whether young, old, kids, no kids, there’s something there that someone can take away and say, ‘that was a really good day.’”

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 10 and younger, and free for infants and toddlers. Gates open Sunday afternoon at 12:30 for a full afternoon of sampling chili, visiting the KidZone Activity Area, the Cruise In and access to craft and food vendors. Go to chilinewhampshire.org to find the latest information about updated activities and a schedule for the day.

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