Downtown Ithaca Celebrating 20th Year of Hosting the Region’s Biggest Chili Cook-Off

Chili, Silent Disco, brew tasting, Family Fun Zone and more coming February 10 on The Commons

ITHACA, NY JANUARY 24, 2018 — Downtown Ithaca’s 20th Annual Chili Cook-Off is coming to the area Saturday, Feb. 10 and will be bigger and better than ever with more than 40 participating restaurants sharing their extremely tasty concoctions and tons of other fun activities going on during the celebration.

Tompkins Trust Company presents this highly anticipated community tradition, which is set from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on The Ithaca Commons, 171 E. State St. The Chili Cook-Off, which draws thousands of attendees each year, features hundreds of gallons of freshly made sweet, spicy, and/or tangy chili samples that are masterfully created by the some of the region’s best chefs. These culinary experts will be competing for coveted prizes (Best Meat, Best Vegetarian/Vegan, Best Other Chili Item, and People’s Choice Chili awards). Meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free sample options at Chili Cook-off will be available.

“People in this region simply love the varieties of chili and all the of the special activities included as part of this annual recognition of this spicy stew. This year, we’ve recruited a group of widely known restaurants that will showcase some of the very best and most creative chili and chili related recipes around. The public is truly going to enjoy what’s in store for them this year, and we thank Tompkins Trust Company for its continued support for this ultimate foodie and family-friendly event,” says Scott Rougeau, Special Events Associate for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, the event’s organizer.

During the event, Chili Cook-Off visitors can help to name the competition’s People’s Choice champion by sampling chili throughout the day and voting for their favorites. Winners of a jury contest and the People’s Choice honorees will be announced at a later day. The grand prize is the famed Chili trophy and plenty of bragging rights!

Last year’s People’s Choice and Best Presentation winner Monks on the Commons is returning and will be serving a Texas-style chili that is sure to gain many votes. Guests will also enjoy chilis from some new participants including Cornell Catering which will feature meat, vegetarian and vegan chili options.

are also ready to flex their chili making muscles. Collegetown Bagels Pub, Farm and Brewery and BandwagonLocal dining favorites and long-time chili participants Bandwagon will be serving a fired-up chili made with locally sourced meat and house-brewed beer, while Collegetown Bagel will offer both a meat chili made with grilled steak chili and a vegan tofu tomatillo chili.

For the brew lovers, Grist Iron Brewing, Bacchus Brewing Co., and Wagner Valley Brewing are among the list of beverage establishments that will provide beer tastings throughout the event.

Thousands of people attend the Downtown Ithaca Great Chili Cook-Off each year.

Chili Cook-Off will also host a variety of culinary purveyors offering chili-inspired bites, such as Life So Sweet Chocolate’s sweet and spicy raspberry jalapeno chocolate truffles, local microbrews and wine (Don’t forget your ID!), and farm-fresh goods.  In between chili chowing, fest-goers can take in the annual spectacular beard and mustache competition – an artistic demonstration showcasing the latest manscape trends, and the extremely popular Silent Disco — details about this wild, wireless dance party are available at For those who are young and young at heart, free face painting, games, and additional fun-filled activities will be available in the Tompkins Trust Family Fun Zone happening inside Center Ithaca.

Presale tickets for this fun-filled, family-friendly event will be available starting February 1 at the Downtown Visitors Center (171 E. State St.), and at two Collegetown Bagels locations (203 N. Aurora St., and 415 College Ave.). If you’re coming in from out of town, you can reserve tickets at will-call with your credit card by calling the Downtown Ithaca Alliance at (607) 277-8679.

As always, you can purchase tickets on the day of the event at the event (cash only). Tickets are $5 for five tastes or $10 for 10 tastes of food, wine, and beer. VIP tickets are also available and give you access to a separate, fast-moving line for tastes, plus the annual fest badge of honor, the chili necklace (while supplies last) at 10 tastes for $20 and 20 tastes for $40!

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 activities, visit, our Facebook Events Page, or call us at (607) 277-8679.