Competition heats up at the Black Hills Stock Show for the annual chili cook-off


A Sign For The Annual Chili Cook OffRAPID CITY, S.D.– With the stock show and rodeo well underway in Rapid City, attendees gathered near the ice arena on Sunday for a nearly 30-year mainstay: the chili cook-off. Ten participants put their best recipes forward for the public and contest judges to try Head Chili Wrangler Jay Murphy explains, vying for theirs to be the best.

How does the competition work?

Most importantly for the competition, all 10 participants must have used beef as a main ingredient in their chili as the South Dakota Beef Council was one of the main sponsors of the competition. They then brought their recipes to the designated location of the cook-off and started dishing out samples to the public. For $5 per person, stock show attendees were also able to sample all of the different chili recipes. “They’re all vying for the coveted cutting board of first, second and third place. We’re also awarding the People’s Choice and best booth,” he said. “After 28 years, these things tend to take on a life of their own and people are jazzed up for it. They’re showing up early, waiting to get in to try out their chili on one of the coldest days of the year.”

Proceeds from the cook-off all went to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Photos from the annual chili cook-off at the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo

What is the secret to a good beef-based chili?

According to Murphy, it depends on the chef. “They are so diverse. You know, it just depends. Some are using ground chuck. Some are including prime rib in their chili. Some are including molasses and brown sugar for a little sweeter chili,” he explains. “Some are almost a barbecue smoky edge– it really runs the gamut.”

Ten recipes sound like a lot. How do the judges pace themselves?

According to Murphy, it was all about the size of the sampler and finding a good palate cleanser for judges to get a better taste of the chili ingredients. “They each get small sample sizes. And then there is a palate cleanser in between. We started with yogurt and we found that was not nearly as popular as beer. So they really enjoy a sip of beer in between these chilies,” he explained.

The number of participants this year was an increase from last year, which only had about half as many people bringing in their chili. As many as 20 people have been part of the competition in the past.

What makes the chili cook-off such a big event for attendees?

In Murphy’s words, a hot bowl of chili brings people together. “It is the perfect comfort food. It is warm, and steaming. It is hearty. It stands on its own as a meal by itself. It doesn’t need to compliment anything, although works great as a topping for other things,” he says. “It is just a wonderful meal to gather around for the family.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News