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Almost time for seventh annual chili cook off

One of Selma’s most beloved events, the seventh annual Alabama River Chili Cookoff, is right around the corner.

Around 20 teams are slated to compete in the cook off so far, and even more may come to the table before next Thursday.

Josh Wilkerson, president of the Blackbelt Benefit Group, said he is excited to be teaming up with Selma and Dallas County Leadership Class XVIII to put on the event this year and to run the show in the coming years.

“We were honored and thrilled that we were even considered to be handed and event like this,” Wilkerson said. “I’m hoping that we can uphold their success and their standards that they’ve done so well with over the years.”

Another change this year is the location. Instead of its usual spot in front of the St. James Hotel on Water Avenue, the event will be held on the other side of Water Avenue near Charlie’s Place and Gallery 905.

“We’re excited about it. We hope it’s going to be as successful as in years past and we’re looking forward to a slightly different location and we hope that everyone will hang around after and visit Charlie’s Place and listen to some live music,” Wilkerson said.

Each year, the money raised from the cook off goes to a different non-profit in Selma. This year, The Bloom House was chosen.

“They’re local advocates for the children in the foster care system in our community, which is a vital part of making sure that they’re encouraged, and that all of their positive traits are incubated and allowed to develop,” Wilkerson said.

“They stand to make a big impact on the future of Selma by advocating and serving the children in the foster care system here.”

Wilkerson said the chili cook off is one of his favorite events in Selma.

“It’s all ages, races, backgrounds, having a great time and just socializing over food. It’s the way it ought to be, the way it’s supposed to be,” Wilkerson said. “That is a representation of Selma to me. That is the Selma that I know.”

Wilkerson said it’s all around a good, fun event that everyone can enjoy, all while giving back to the people in the community.

“The chili [cook off] is something fun that everybody can try out their famous recipes and compete against each other,” he said. “It just adds to the excitement and the kids playing and people interacting. It’s just a nice, family, friendly event.”

The title sponsor again this year is Moore-Stewart Ford.

The chili cook off will be held Thursday, March 29 from 5-8 p.m. Teams interested in competing can email blackbeltbenefitgroup@gmail.com.