Arts council hosting ChiliFest

It's so hot, it must be chili.

For the 43rd time, the Community Arts Council and the Prince George Potters' Guild will co-host the long popular Spring Arts Bazaar & Chili Cookoff. As a sign of its continued growth, the city's Kiwanis Club has joined forces and in tandem with that group's annual winter event AleFest that celebrates local beer recipes, the bubbling caldrons of beeny, meaty, spicey goulash will be known this year as ChiliFest.

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"It's always a lot of chili. There are 12 teams competing this year," said Community Arts Council (CAC) program manager Lisa Redpath. To vote, the public purchases a handmade clay bowl created by the potters of the guild. Buying a bowl gets you dollops of chili and ballots to rank your favourites.

"Radio station CFIS is the defending champion, and the MLAs are back with a new recipe this year because they definitely want their title back. They held it six years in a row until last year, and they are serious chili makers," said Redpath.

The event is a fundraiser for the CAC, the potters' guild, and many of the vendors and agencies that will be on the Studio 2880 grounds for this artstravaganza. Many local artisans and fine artists will be there with wares on display.

"The bowls are a main attraction. They are hand crafted and beautifully made, and over the years it has become something people have collected," said Redpath. "We will have our art market, with artists and all our member arts guilds, our artists in residence will be there, Barry Schaefer is a local blacksmith who'll bring out his gear and show what he can do, the community foundation will be there selling their fundraising book, the Heart & Stroke Foundation, and a rotation of live music performances arranged by the Coldsnap Winter Music Festival."

ChiliFest is structured on the CAC providing a table under a tent, the prep and serving tools, some base ingredients, and after that the special creations all uniquely come from the culinary competitors from the community teams.

The Spring Arts Bazaar gets underway at 10 a.m. on June 2, with the first spoonful of succulent chili doled out at 11 a.m. continuing to 2 p.m. (the event closes at 3 p.m.)

"The competition is of course exciting, but this is a broad way to celebrate and support the arts," Redpath said. "After 42 years, we know this is something the community looks forward to and it becomes an annul highlight thing for a lot of people."

Each chili bowl - a work of art itself - sells for $25 per bowl. Last year was one for poor weather and the CAC nonetheless sold more than 450 bowls. Inclemency is no match for P.G. community spirit, especially when there's a chili throwdown in progress.

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