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Who's Ready to Eat Some Chili?

The annual New England Regional Chili Cook Off in Somers this weekend is expected to draw quite a crowd.

The annual New England Regional Chili Cook Off will be held on Saturday and Sunday — rain or shine — from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the grounds.

The cost of admission is $6 and two canned goods, or $7 without the canned goods. Admission is free for “kids” over 70 and under five. More than 10,000 visitors are expected each day.

The proceeds will benefit the and the Patriot Guard Riders of Connecticut.

“It’s an opportunity for my wife and I to help our community, the town that we live in that we love, and help our fire department,” said organizer Michael Freedman. “We also help the larger community by helping the Patriot Guard Riders.”

The chili cook off began in the late 1980s, but then moved to Massachusetts before returning to Somers in 2006. The first year was small, about 36 cooks, but with a $1,000 budget, Freedman raised more than $14,000. The next year, there were more cooks and more money was raised.

“We’re at the stage now that in five years, we’ve raised over $100,000 and seven tons of canned goods,” Freedman said. “If we can donate twice as much as we have in the past to both our nonprofits, and if we can raise over a ton of canned goods for here in Somers, then I’ve exceeded my goals.”

At least 60 chili cooks are expected on Saturday and 45-50 on Sunday, though Freedman expects that number to grow. Many of the cooks are world champions coming from all over the country. There will be a youth division for chili cooks under the age of 18.

In addition to the great food, there will be lots of entertainment and vendors. Freedman said the vendors sell everything from jewelry to hot sauces to home improvement items. There will also be music, clowns, face painting, a wing eating contest, “Super Hero Sunday” and more.

“It’s truly a feel-good event,” Freedman said.

Not sure if this event is for you? Check out the from last year and decide for yourself!

For more information, check out the cook off website at www.chilict.com.

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