Chilirhea to host final event after 15 years

Photo: Courtesy, Chilirhea

Organizers of an annual chili cook-off that began in 2004 and raised over $500,000 for Alzheimers research will host their final event this year.

The Chilirhea event, which got its start as a small back-yard cook-off between college friends but grew into an event attended by hundreds each year, will come to an end after its 15th anniversary, which is set for Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

According to organizers, difficultly finding new blood to take over the event as board members’ obligations have evolved led to the decision.

“The decision to end the event was not one that was made lightly,” read the post announcing the decision to end the event after this year. “We have had great people join the board here and there, but we have not been able to find a younger generation of board members that are willing to commit to the time and effort it takes to put on an event of this size. The core group is getting older, most of us have multiple children now, and obligations that didn’t fill our time when we were younger.”

In other word, life happened.

The event is planning to go out with a bang, however.

The final event is expected to include over 30 different types of chili for sampling, live music, a silent auction, and other festivities.

Organizers say they raised over $100,000 last year, and are hoping to reach that goal again for their final year. To date, Chilirhea has raised over $550,000 for Alzheimers research.

Tickets to the event are $35 in advance, or $40 at the door for adults, and are on sale now at Kids 13 and under get in free. Proceeds from the event will benefit Alzheimer’s Arkansas, UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging, and The Broyles Foundation.

For more information, check out the Facebook page.