ESCANABA - United Way of Delta County will kick off its campaign season at the U.P. State Fairgrounds Tuesday with the 18th Annual Soup'r Chili Challenge.
The Challenge will be held in the Ruth Butler building and will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors to the event will receive samples of soups and chili prepared by businesses, restaurants, organizations and politicians.
The Soup'r Chili Challenge is a community favorite, usually attracting crowds of between 500 and 600 people. Admission to the Challenge is $20 for families, $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors 65 or older. Children ages 6 to 12 can eat for $5 and children under 5 eat free.
"You're getting a little taste, a sample, but when you sample 15 or 20 different types of chili you walk out of there full," said Julie Mallard, executive director of United Way of Delta County. In addition to the soups and chili, free soft drinks and ice cream will be provided by Bink's Coca-Cola and Elmer's County Market.
Competitors are encouraged to decorate their booths at the Challenge, and an award is given to the booth that is voted best decorated. Booths are encouraged to follow the theme of the event; this year the theme is "Tailgating Party."
Entries will be judged by a panel of judges from the Brampton Volunteer Fire Department and the Ford River Volunteer Fire Department. Soups and chilis will be judged separately and awards will be given for restaurants and non-restaurant organizations.
Soups and Chilis competing in the non-restaurant division will be cooked on site, while restaurant division soups and chilis can be prepared in the restaurant's commercial kitchen.
People's Choice awards will be given to the soup and chili chosen by visitors. "We have a big traveling trophy for soup and one for chili," said Mallard.
In past years, the entries have been fairly evenly split between soups and chilis, but this year tasters can expect more chili options. "We're very chili heavy," said Mallard, adding that she thought the chili entries might be related to this year's theme. "People think tailgating, they think chili."
Other events at the Challenge will include a 50/50 raffle and drawings for gift baskets donated by organizations competing in the competition.
Proceeds from the event will be returned to the local community through grants from United Way to their member agencies. Many of the member agencies will be on site at the Challenge giving out information about their services.
Mallard is asking that attendees of the Soup'r Chili Challenge bring a non-perishable food item for the Salvation Army food pantry, which has been nearly depleted. A van collecting donations will be located by the entrance to the Challenge.
For more information about United Way of Delta County and the Soup'r Chili Challenge, visit www.uwdelta.org or call 786-3736.