The Chili Cook-off in Five Points was called off in 2015, leading some to fear the long-running annual event was dead. But worry not, chiliheads: The Five Points Association has just announced that the 2016 chili cook-off will take place on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Amy Beth Franks, executive director of the Five Points Association, says flood damage forced the cancellation of last year's event, although it was held more than a month after the devastating October flood. Columbia police had asked that the event be moved to Martin Luther King Jr. Park, as it had grown too large for its usual location on the 2100 block of Greene Street (between Group Therapy and the post office, near the park). The park sustained damage from the flood, leaving Franks with no location for the cook-off, she says.
"There was never any doubt that the event would come back this year," Franks says.
The name returns, too: The event is called the 29th Annual Chili Cook-Off in Five Points, since last year's scheduled 29th edition didn't happen.
The cook-off will also return to its longtime location on Greene Street, Franks says. Organizers have worked with the police department to alter the busy festival's footprint slightly to better fit the space.
Franks says attendees can expect a few changes. There'll be a food truck rodeo to provide more non-chili food options. And the musical lineup — bigger than ever, she promises — will be announced next week.
Five Points has chosen a busy day for the event: The Jam Room Festival will be going on downtown, and The Pretenders and Stevie Nicks play the Colonial Life Arena that evening. The Gamecocks play in Gainesville, Florida that day.
Also of note: This'll be the first cook-off since Group Therapy became Taneyhill's Group Therapy. A former Group Therapy owner started the chili cook-off 30 years ago; the Five Points Association took over running it in 2012, though Group remained a key part of the festival, with crowds flowing in and out its doors. Former Gamecocks quarterback Steve Taneyhill bought the landmark bar in June.
The cookoff runs from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12. Admission is free; samples of chili are not. Chili chefs can sign up here. Free Times will have more information as the event nears.