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What happened to the annual Chili Cookoff at Hugh McRae Park for Labor Day weekend?

Mike Voorheis
StarNews

Lachlan MacNeish Sr. adds spice to a pot of chili as Butch Edens stirs the pot for Fat Boys saturday at the Chili Cookoff. StarNews file photo.

Q. What happened to the annual Chili Cookoff at Hugh McRae Park for Labor Day weekend? I used to go back in the 1980s when I lived in Wilmington and don’t hear about it anymore. It usually got rained out!

A. The 2009 Chili Cookoff was the 23rd and last held at Hugh MacRae Park.

Jackson Beverage sponsored the event. When Jackson Beverage was sold to RA Jeffreys in 2008, the new ownership continued to hold the event, which benefited the Domestic Violence Shelter and Services.

Diane Lomax, director of operations and development for the shelter, said a few factors led organizers to discontinue the Chili Cookoff.

First, criteria changed for staging events at Hugh MacRae Park. Other festivals formerly held at Hugh MacRae Park simply moved to other venues. Secondly, weather was always a concern for the outdoor events.

But the primary reason the festival was discontinued was that the event was so labor-intensive, Lomax said.

An all-day festival requires several layers of organization, from recruiting competitors to promoting the event to lining up music to setting up tents.

The shelter received an average of about $7,000 per year from the shelter.

R.A. Jeffreys continues to support the Domestic Violence Shelter, Lomax said. The company is now a sponsor of the shelter’s annual fashion show and silent auction.

RELATED LINKS:

How did the Azalea Festival and the Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off end up on the same weekend this year?

Why did the summer concert series leave Hugh MacRae Park for Wrightsville Beach?

User-contributed question by:
Lynne Knowles

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