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Northern Hospitality Festival/Great Northern Chili Cook-Off turns spotlight on local food, arts and music

Spicy food and tantalizing music blended together this weekend in downtown Prince George
The Northern Hospitality Festival and Northern Chili Cook-Off are happening this weekend at Knox Performance Centre in downtown Prince George.

Looking for something different to do this weekend?

How about a block party with gourmet food and some live music - a mix of rock, country, folk and blues – and a sneak musical sampling of a new children’s album from local artist Kym Gouchie?

The Northern Hospitality Festival music lineup this Friday and Saturday also includes Danny Bell and His Disappointments Grande Maul, Britt AM, Saltwater Hank, Big Fancy and Reckless Burning.

If that doesn’t make your ears hungry, the 48th annual Great Northern Chili Cook-Off and BC Gourmet Festrival are bound to please your belly.

Twelve chili specialists will bring their best recipes to life for a public sampling this Saturday as part of the festival at Knox Performance Centre at 1448 Fifth Ave.

The Pattison Group will be back to defend its chill cook-off title from last year and those radio/TV guys and gals will no doubt face some spicy competition from the other 11 entries produced by local celebrities, politicians and arts enthusiasts.

“There’s a lot of chili smack-talk happening already,” said Lisa Redpath, Studio 2880 program manager.

“A lot of them come back every year, and there are always some new ones that want to vie to be chili champs. I challenge people to eat from all 12 chili booths, because that’s a lot of food.”
Each $25 chili serving comes with a collectable hand-crafted bowl and proceeds from the cook-off will go to the Prince George Potters Guild.

The Kickers and Grace Hoksbergen will be on hand to perform live during the cook-off.

“This event is a unique blend of culinary and performing arts, bringing together local talent and community spirit,” said PG Community Arts Foundation executive director Eli Klasner.

“The Great Northern Chili Cook-Off is not just about the delicious chili; it's about celebrating our local potters who handcraft the beautiful chili bowls that are eagerly collected by our supporters.”

If you’re not a chili fan, vendors from the BC Gourmet Arts Festival will be there with food trucks to provide a variety of delightfully tasty options.

The chili cook-off goes from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday outdoors in front of the converted church now known as Knox Performance Centre. Fifth Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from Victoria Street to Brunswick Street during the cook-off.

Bell is at the tail end of his year-long residency with the Community Arts Council of Prince George. He and his accordion spent a productive winter together secluded in a cabin on Nukko Lake and he will be playing his new material as headliner of the Saturday evening show, sharing the stage with Reckless Burning and Big Fancy.

“I’ve had such a great experience during this residency, having the opportunity to explore new techniques and being given dedicated space and time to write new material.” says Bell.  “I’m so excited to show the community what I’ve been working on during this residency.  We’re playing a lot of new songs at Northern Hospitality Festival, and we get to do it alongside a great lineup of talented friends.  And the Chili Cook-Off is the icing on the cake.”

The Friday night rock show features Saltwater Jack, Grande Maul and Britt AM.

“I would say Friday night is real rock night and Saturday is more fun, country, folksy,” said Shelby Richardson, PG Community Foundation performing arts manager.

The two evening shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Gouchie will be on the Knox stage Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available online. Admission for each evening show is $30 and Gouchie’s afternoon show is $10. A festival pass costs $50.