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Cattle, Oil, and the Nation’s Oldest Chili Cook-Off?

A hearty bowl of chili con carne with hot peppers.What’s old, hot and full of beans? Nope, it’s not a washed-up celebrities joke. It’s the 43rd Annual Houston Pod Chili Cook-off, billed as the oldest chili cook-off in the world. And like everything else in Texas, it’s a big one.

The cook-off is held under the auspices of the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), an organization whose goal is to raise money for charities through an appreciation of chili.

This year, proceeds of the Houston Pod cook-off will benefit the Santa Maria Hostel for Female Veterans, and Hal John & Judy Wimberly Memorial Scholarship Fund for journalism students at UT Austin. Since its inception, the Houston Pod cook-off has raised thousands of dollars to benefit area charities.

Held at Traders Village, the cook-off will draw chefs and culinary masters from across the U.S., including winners of the world-renowned Terlingua International Chili Championship.

The weekend event held this year on April 26 and 27, actually begins on Friday night with a welcome event. On Saturday, the “chiliheads” get down to business – serious business. The “Casa Fiesta” Jackpot Bean Cookoff is the first event, followed by the 11th Annual Ron Charlton Junior Chili Championship for chefs from 6 to 17 years old. The afternoon features the CASI Chili Grind Only and the CASI Showmanship events, and winds down with a potluck dinner and party Saturday evening.

Sunday morning, the chefs gear up again, this time with a breakfast casserole cook-off, followed by the CASI Chili Grind Only and CASI Showmanship events.

Lots of food will be available to hungry event attendees, and you can even take a taste of the event home, thanks to sales of both chili and Frito pie. And of course, there will be lots of family fun too, with rides for kids, loads of vendors and even overnight camping for event participants.

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