Hungry Santa Claritans will be able to get their chili fix while also helping to support a good cause at the seventh annual SCV Charity Chili Cook-off on Thursday at The Oaks Club.
Nicole Stinson founded the charity event seven years ago as a way to raise funds for the “underdog” charities of Santa Clarita that weren’t as well known or receive as much community support.
“It seemed like the same charities were just throwing the same kinds of fundraisers every year,” Stinson said. “We wanted to host an event that would support a different charity every year so new groups could get a chance to receive money. We also wanted our event to be a fun after-work event that people could network but also bring their families. No one else was doing anything like a chili cook-off besides the Sheriff’s (Department), and I love chili.”
This year, 44 chili cooks who will be judged by both a panel of celebrity judges and attendees will vote to crown the best chilis. The event will also include live music, dancing, vendors, a silent auction and a kids corner.
Originally, the cook-off was exclusively for the real estate community and the first year, Stinson planned the event in five weeks and 600 people showed up even though she only expected 100. That year, the cook-off supported five charities and raised $7,000. Now the event takes a year to plan, and the 2018 event drew about 2,500 people and raised $65,000.
Two charities are chosen each year to receive support from the fundraiser. Charities are nominated through a form sent out on social media and an email list. From there, Stinson and her team chose a cause they want to support and interview the charities that fall under that category.
This year, Stinson wanted to support animal rescues and ultimately chose the Shelter Hope Pet Shop and the Lange Foundation’s St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary.
“We really liked how Shelter Hope was all volunteers, how many animals they were saving and how many families and kids we saw there,” she said. “St. Bonnie’s is completely different and it’s a long-term animal rescue that takes in elderly and disabled animals that will probably never get adopted. They offer medical care and surgery for these animals and let them live there until they pass.”
This year will be the first time the event is held inside. Stinson said that last year, the cook-off coincided with a pouring rainstorm that almost ruined the event. This year, in order to ensure the event runs smoothly regardless of weather, the event will be an “indoor/outdoor experience” with a plan in place to move everything inside if it does rain.
“We never thought the cook-off would last as long and be as successful as it is,” Stinson said. “It’s exciting to me and I love hearing people buzz about it as the event gets closer. I think people will really enjoy the changes we’ve made this year.”
General admission tickets are $30 and can be purchased online or in person. VIP tickets cost $65 and will close sales on 3/19 at midnight. Tickets can be purchased online at scvcharitychilicookoff.com. The Signal is a media sponsor of the SCV Charity Chili Cook-off.