A hot time at IceFest this weekend

January 25, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • A chili cookoff will be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during IceFest in Chambersburg, Pa. A hot pepper-eating contest, also on Saturday, begins at 1:30 p.m. Both will take place in downtown Chambersburg.
Photo illustration

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — It probably will be be easy to spot the contestants, even in a crowd. They’ll be the ones with the watery eyes and flushed skin — the faces that prove you are what you eat.

And in this case, what they’ll be eating is jalapeno peppers.

A little bit of fire will mix with IceFest in downtown Chambersburg when the annual winter celebration offers two food competitions — a chili cookoff and a challenge to see who can eat the most hot peppers.

The contests have become a popular tradition during the four-day event, said Tina Flohr, coordinator of the Downtown Business Council of Chambersburg.

It’s a way to add a little heat to a cold-weather festival, she noted.

“Celebrate IceFest” is the theme for this year’s event, which is marking its 10th anniversary, Flohr said.

Activities kick off 5 p.m. today and continue through Sunday.

The chili cookoff will be held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and the hot pepper eating contest, also on Saturday, begins at 1:30 p.m.  Both will take place in the North Square parking lot.

Flohr said the chili cook-off has been held for at least the past six years with contestants coming from local businesses, organizations and the general public.

The cookoff, which is no longer accepting entries, features professional and amateur chili-cooker divisions.

Each entrant is asked to make 20 gallons of chili, which might seem like a lot, Flohr said, “but we usually have a line outside of the tent waiting for it to open and most of the cookers run out of chili before the event is over.”

The best professional entry, as well as the first place amateur entry will walk away with cash prizes, she said. Also recognized will be the second place winner and best-decorated booth.

It’s a good thing that ice melts because the liquid might come in handy for contestants participating in the hot pepper-eating contest.

Flohr said $25 will go to the individual who eats the most jalapeno peppers within a two-minute time frame — an eternity when your mouth is on fire.

There is a $1 fee to enter the hot pepper-eating contest and contestants can sign up the day of the event.

During both food competitions, Flohr said a live band will be performing and beer samples will be available.

“You can heat up and then cool down,” she joked.

In addition to the contests, Flohr said IceFest features a variety of activities for the family, including ice sculptures, an ice slide, art and photo exhibits, a Snowfall Ball, a cake decorating competition, a polar dunk plunge, performances by the Chambersburg Ballet Company, fireworks and food vendors.

“We guesstimate that between 10,000 to 15,000 people will attend IceFest,” Flohr said. “We have visitors from all over the Northeast. We recently had someone contact us through our website to let us know that they’ll be coming from Michigan.”

If you go ...       

WHAT: IceFest

WHEN: Today through Sunday, Jan. 29, various times

WHERE: Downtown Chambersburg, Pa.

COST: Many events are free.

CONTACT: For a schedule, go to or call 717-264-6883.

If you go ...       

WHAT: Chili cookoff

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28

WHERE: North Square parking lot, Chambersburg

COST: Tickets for chili tasting are $5, $3 for ages 11 and younger. $1 fee to enter the hot pepper-eating contest; sign up at the chili cookoff.

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