Chocolate, chili concoctions ready to please
Two culinary staples of the University of Okoboji Winter Games will return for another year of sweet and savory flavors. The annual Chili Cook-Off will fill the air with hearty aromas from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Dickinson County Expo Building. The spice will give way to sugar during the Chocolate Classic and Galleria 1-3 p.m. Saturday in the Expo Building.
Each year, a theme is assigned to the Chili Cook-Off. This year, the theme was paired with the event's new sponsor Oak Hill Marina.
"They're going to have their boats on display, and the theme is going to be 'Shipwrecked,'" Kiley Zankowski, director of membership and events at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, said. "That's anything from Gilligan's Island to Titanic to the movie Castaway. There's a lot of fun options for that. People can decorate their booths, you can dress up and it's a really fun event."
Teams are asked to have at least 10 gallons of their chili on hand. The public is invited to taste test the entries — up to 40 teams can fit in the venue — and vote for their favorite recipe. Those who have already purchased their commemorative mug for the event can bypass the lines at the door. Awards will be presented for "Best Overall Chili," "Best Nonprofit" and "Best Booth." The winning entries in each category will be announced at approximately 6:30 p.m. Saturday during the annual Fireworks Extravaganza in Preservation Plaza.
The other half of the weekend's flavorful combo will be setting out rows upon rows of delectable eats in the Expo Building Saturday. Sponsor Ingvall Real Estate promises the sweet treats to be a sure cure for the winter blues.
Chocolate venders are expected to have 500 sample-sized sweets for the public to taste. Zankowski said, despite the event's name, the confections do not necessarily have to be chocolate, but the Chocolate Classic portion of the event will also be a taste-test competition.
"People can go around, test taste them and they can give you a ticket for the piece of chocolate and the chamber does a payout back," Zankowski said, adding chocolatiers earn 50 cents on the dollar for each ticket. "It's a great way to get marketing for your business or nonprofit and it's also a really fun event for people to attend who love desserts and sweet treats."
Winners will be announced at approximately 6:30 p.m. that night during the Fireworks Extravaganza in Preservation Plaza.
Aside from the chocolate, vendors of various kinds will be set up in the space. Ingvall Real Estate said approximately 1,200 people or more attend the event each year. The business encouraged each of the vendors to decorate their designated areas for the public.
"It is a great way to give your business some exposure, a way to raise money for your non-profit organization and a fun way to be involved in the Winter Games events," Mary Lynn Ingvall said.
Zankowski noted, even if a organization's goods aren't tangible or table-sized, the galleria is an opportunity to demonstrate what the business offers for its customers.