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Frequently Asked Questions


When did the Chili Cook-off start?

The Chili Cook-off is hosted by the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. The first Chili Cook-off was held in 1983. Since then, it has grown from just a few vendors to over 40 and is one of the largest festivals in downtown Belleville. 


Where and when is the Chili Cook-off held?

The Chili Cook-off takes place in downtown Belleville around the Veterans Memorial Fountain and along Main Street. It is held Columbus Day weekend.

How does the Chili Cook-off Competition work?

On Friday afternoon, each vendor brings a sample of their chili to the judging area where professional judges award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons to a “Non-Food Service Business/Organization” division or the “Restaurant/Caterer” vendor. Festival attendees can also vote for the People's Choice Award at each vendor booth, $1 equals one vote. All awards are announced at 5:00pm on Saturday evening. 


Is there an admission fee?

No. Admission is free and the event is open to the public! Food prices vary from vendor to vendor, so make sure you bring cash for samples & food!


Can I buy a Chili Cook-off T-Shirt/Sweatshirt?

Yes, there is a souvenir stand located by the Veterans Memorial Fountain. 


How much does food and cost?

Vendors set their own prices for their chili, other food items and non-alchoholic beverages.


Are adult beverages available? 

Yes. A 16 oz domestic beer is 1 token. A 12oz craft beer is 1 token. Tokens are $5.00 each and can be purchased at the Token Booths. Other adult beverages are available for 1 token. 


Do I need cash or chips for the beer stands? 

You will need cash to purchase chips at the token stands. You can use old chips as long as they have the Belleville Chamber of Commerce logo on them. Others are not accepted. ATMs are located near token stands for those that need cash on the spot.

Where are the token booths and beer stands? 

Token booths are located by the Veterans Memorial Fountain and at the intersection of East Main Street and Jackson Street. Beer stands are in the same location.


Do I need a token to buy the food? 

No. Tokens are only for the beer stands.


Is there anything to eat besides chili? 

Yes, some vendors sell other food items such as hot dogs, chicken wings, french fries, etc. There are also dessert vendors. 


Where does the money go? 

Most of the vendors are either a non-profit organization or a business raising money for a charity. Vendors decide how proceeds from their booth are used. The money donated for the People's Choice Award is donated to the Community Interfaith Food Pantry. The event is also a major fundraiser for the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. Funds raised at the token booths help the Chamber continue its mission of "Advancing Business. Supporting Community."


Can I bring my pet to the festival? 

No. Pets are not allowed at the festival per the city health code.

Are there volunteer opportunities to work at the festival?

Yes! Most do not realize that the Chili Cook-off is planned and hosted by the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce that consists of only four staff members. We rely heavily on our volunteers to help us put on this event successfully every year. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities, please contact us for more information.

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