By Fran Soto
River Valley Times
July 27, 2016

Members of the Wilton Firefighters’ Association (WFA) Chili Cook-off planning committee are putting the final touches on their annual major fundraising event scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13 at Fog Willow Farm in Wilton. WFA President Alex Carl and WFA Co-Vice President Brian Eisenbeisz are heading up the preparations for another fun-filled, family-friendly Chili Cook-off and Classic Car how. A major portion of the proceeds from the Chili Cook-off are annually donated back to Wilton community organizations such as Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Dillard PTO, 4-H clubs and the WFA scholarship.

“The Chili Cook-off is our main event for the year so we can maintain our sponsor status of these local organizations,” Carl said. “This year we are focusing on the kids. We are bringing in a lot more attractions so they will have a lot of fun.”

In the 16 years since the Chili Cook-off was first held, the event has grown from a chili contest and classic car show to include a kids’ zone, live music, a beer garden, locally prepared food and raffle.
The committee has already registered 20 chili teams to prepare their unique version on site. Past entries have included everything from sweet, spicy, all bean, unusual meats including tri-tip and rattlesnake, and with catchy names such as “Honey Bee Chili.”

“This isn’t just canned chili. It is their own, and it’s fresh,” Carl said.

Tasting will begin around noon and a chili tasting kit is $5, which allows visitors to taste any and all entries. Tasters can vote at the booth of their favorite chili. Judges for best chili include Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, local fire officials, news anchors and local business owners.

In the early days, the cookoff was held at the Wilton Fire Protection District Station 81 at the corner of Wilton and Dillard roads. The new location, Fog Willow Farm, is located at the end of Cecatra Drive off Green Road in Wilton. The site offers plenty of off-street parking. There is plenty of shade for sunny August days and plenty of room for all events, including the Classic Car Show, which draws dozens of lovingly restored and maintained models from yesteryear. Visitors will have the opportunity to see vehicles from the early ‘20s and ‘30s to later examples of sedans, station wagons, trucks and even utility vehicles. Meet the owners and peer inside to experience the history and learn about the evolution of motorized transportation.

“Lots of people asked about the Chili Cook-off when we didn’t have it for a few years,” Eisenbeisz said. “People are really excited it came back.”

If the past is any indication of the variety of vender booths, this year’s event should be a chance to buy everything from bottled hot sauce to handcrafted jewelry, soaps and scarves. There will also be local organization booths to learn more about the Wilton community and its residents.

The cook-off officially opens at 10 a.m. although chili teams are already set up and preparing the ingredients for their entry. Visitors are free to watch the chili being made and converse with the chefs. As the day progresses, entertainment will be provided by two bands, Tequila Shots Rock and Roll Band and Fire in the Hole Band. Tents with seating will be set up for enjoying live music in the shade and free of charge.

Friends of Wilton Youth will be staffing the Fog Willow Farm kitchen and providing a luncheon menu of tri-tip sandwiches, hot dogs, drinks and sides. The beer garden may even include a local brewery.

Entry fee is $1 and hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The WFA invites the community to come out for the day and enjoy all the activities that are for the most part free of charge. The WFA Chili Cook-off and Classic Car Show is truly a community event that needs community involvement as its goal is to return that commitment back to the community. The planning committee has set a lofty goal of raising $15,000, which will directly benefit the community.

“This is a big event for the community to come together as a whole,” Eisenbeisz said. “This isn’t just for the fire department or the WFA but we need help from the community.”

It is still not too late to enter the chili contest or exhibit a classic car. Entry forms are available at the WFD website,, on Facebook Wilton Firefighters Association or by stopping in
at Station 81.

“Bring your family to the Chili Cook-off and be part of our fire family,” Carl said.

Many thanks to The River Valley Times and Herburger Publications, Inc. for allowing the Wilton Community Center to reprint articles about Wilton events. To subscribe for home delivery, please call (916) 685-5533.