It is chili time again and as usual the Trout Unlimited mailbox is filling up rapidly and the Trout Unlimited Chili Cook Off committee is hard at work making this 14th annual cook off the best yet.

Rest assured that the Trout Unlimited Chili Cook Off will be held on Saturday Oct. 10 at Ridge Ferry Park rain or shine.

The gates open to the public at 10:30 a.m. Teams of chili cookers from North Georgia and surrounding states will be setting out samples of their finest chili for the public to taste. Any individual can help to decide who wins a trophy by voting for their favorite team in the peoples’ choice competition.

Forty plus judges will decide who wins the judges trophy that includes a cash prize.

Most of the veteran teams with several years of experience at our cook off have planned for the event well in advance and have tested their recipes on friends and family.

Many teams have actually spent hours designing some elaborate décor in hopes of attracting attention from the crowd and getting more people to come by to taste their chili. Some teams have even put showmanship ahead of taste in a fashion similar to P.T. Barnum.

Some teams never worry about the cook-site décor and focus all of their attention on taste and quality of the chili and allow the other teams to work as hard as they like decorating the cook areas. These low budget teams sometimes have the best chili in the park.

I have been attempting in these last few paragraphs to explain that being in the cook off can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. It is important to have several people working together as a team.

People will share the cost of the ingredients as well as the prep work for the chili and serving and cooking jobs. This allows for resting and also the self promotion of your potential winning recipe.

Some type of shelter or canopy is a good idea. The event is held rain or shine and a cool rainy day is not any more pleasant than sunburns from being in the sun all day.

The shelter can be as simple as a beach umbrella, a $15 Wal-Mart picnic tent or a blue vinyl tarp held up by poles. All that is necessary otherwise is a few chairs, a table and the cooking apparatus.

Most teams use a portable propane fish cooker/ urkey fryer but a Coleman stove works quite well and supplies plenty of heat. An eight-to-10 gallon pot will usually be large enough to cook a good batch of chili but the secret cooking utensil, a short boat paddle, makes stirring the chili easy.

Please, don’t forget a table, a ladle and various cooking utensils. Gloves, potholders, bottled water, paper towels and Rolaids will come in handy.

Camping is permitted in the park on Friday and Saturday nights. Tent camping is permitted within the individual cook sites and RVs are allowed only on perimeter sites.

We have been asked to strictly enforce the amplified music rule at the park and this year there will be no amplified music allowed after 11 p.m. either night. That includes personal stereos, boom boxes, car radios etc. This will be enforced by uniformed officers.

The last several years the number of campers and RVs has increased dramatically. These big homes away from home come in very handy but do occupy a lot of space.

Last year at check in on Friday at 8 a.m. we had campers and teams lined up way down the highway waiting to choose their spot.

This year, for campers and RVs only, sites will be assigned and this is to help avoid the land rush and confusion. All the campers and RVs will be required to park on perimeter sites and being first in line will not get you the best site, just the first available camper site.

To help conserve space for campers we suggest that where space allows that the campers pull in nose first or back into cook sites. This way they can save the additional site fee.

Same as last year, the only people allowed in the park after 8 p.m. Friday are; TU personnel and volunteers, sponsors and their guests and cook off team members. Anyone in the park after 8 p.m. must be wearing the official arm band.

No exceptions!

Arm bands will be available for purchase by the team leader only and are not available for purchase by the general public. Additional team member arm bands are $5 each and available from TU STAFF.

Arm bands must be worn and intact for free re-entry into the park on Saturday.

Don’t miss out. It is not too late to enter. Come be a part of the best fund raising party in Northwest Georgia. Entry forms are available from our sponsors and at various locations around North Georgia. Call me, Paul Diprima 706-766-5083, Bill Summer 706-346-1233 or go to the cook off website and print an application to cook.