Abundant Family Fun

Much more than just the inaugural Chisholm Chili Cookoff in Meridian June 25-26, the event offers a free outdoor movie, live music & dance, as well as disc golf, horseshoes, cornhole & washer tournaments

MERIDIAN – Wanting to establish an event that restores some long-lost local traditions and celebrates the birth of City of Meridian on July 4, 1854, the Meridian Parks and Recreation Committee decided to initiate a new marquee summer event – the Chisholm Chili Cookoff. The inaugural event was initially planned for 2020, but COVID-19 restrictions caused the event to be delayed a year.

Sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), the first annual Chisholm Chili Cookoff on June 25-26 will allow cookers to amass qualifying points for the CASI Terlingua International Chili Championship (TICC) held annually on the first Saturday in November at the Rancho CASI de los Chisos.

But the Chisholm Chili Cookoff will be much more than that. In addition to chili cookoff qualifying event, contests will be held for Beans, Margaritas and Bloody Marys, as well as a slew of fun, family attractions for visitors to enjoy, such as a free outdoor movie night Friday, tournaments in disc golf, horseshoes, cornhole and washer Saturday, as well as live music and dance on Saturday night.

“Many volunteers have worked very hard and put in some long hours to make this event possible,” Meridian Parks & Recreation board president Don Hatley said. “And we could not have gotten everything done without the support of the good folks at Meridian City Hall and Meridian Public Works. All of us are very excited about finally being able to put this event on.”

The Meridian Parks and Recreation invites all of Bosque County and surrounding counties to come to Meridian and enjoy the weekend’s activities at the Meridian Lion’s Park, Meridian Park, the John A. Lomax Amphitheater, Bosque Bottoms and the Meridian Civic Center. Everything is open to the public, and who doesn’t want the chance to judge some award-winning chili?

Come be part of this new signature Bosque County event and have some fun! Call Meridian City Hall to sign up as a judge for the beverage and chili competitions. Judging takes place in the climate-controlled Meridian Civic Center for the judges convenience and comfort!

On Friday evening, besides a round of chili judging, the True Texas-Mexican adult beverage – the Margarita – will be the star in a competition all about the tangy, sweet and sometimes potent cocktail that drinks like lemonade. The Margarita cocktail was the "Drink of the Month" in Esquire magazine, December 1953. It was further popularized by the 1977 song "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett, and in 2004 it was described as "the most popular mixed drink in America.”

The drink is also popular because it tantalizes several taste sections of your tongue – sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. The simplest recipe is one ounce tequila, a dash of Triple Sec, juice of half a lime; pour over crushed ice, stir. Rub the rim of a stem glass with rind of lemon or lime, spin in salt. But the new rage is to add all sorts of flavors, such as jalapeno, mango, pickle, and even chocolate – so expect anything and everything at a competition. Come check it out!

Friday’s entertainment will begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Bosque Bottoms Pavilion as a Disc Jockey will play some danceable tunes until 8 p.m. before the showing of the Meridian Parks & Rec’s monthly Free Outdoor Movie Night. The film presentation will begin at 8 p.m. with a classic Looney Tunes cartoon and previews of upcoming films before the feature film begins at 8:30 p.m. featuring the John Wayne classic western “CHISUM.

Telling the fictionalized story of the legendary cattle baron, John Wayne stars as the straight-talking, honest and action driven cattle baron John Chisum, who joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war. Other stars in the film are Forrest Tucker and Christopher George.

One of the dialogues iconic to the Western genre is James Pepper saying “You know, there's an old saying, Miss Sally. There's no law west of Dodge and no God west of the Pecos. Right, Mr. Chisum?” To which John Simpson Chisum answers “Wrong, Mr. Pepper. Because no matter where people go, sooner or later there's the law. And sooner or later, they find God's already been there.”

Director Andrew V. McLaglen, who often directed John Wayne, James Stewart, and Harry Carey Jr. called this film one of his favorites.

"I wanted Billy the Kid to just be Billy the Kid, a human being, not a bad little boy. Fenady was sort of a scholar about the Lincoln County Cattle War, which was a conflict over water and cattle-trading, John Chisum actually became a very powerful landowner. It was an American story."

Beginning Saturday morning, Meridian Parks & Recreation will christen its newly-installed nine-hole disc golf course with the first annual Chisholm Trail Disc Golf Tournament in Lions Park and Meridian Park. In addition, there will be horseshoe, cornhole and washer tournaments at the Lion’s Park starting in the morning and moving into the early afternoon. While you play your tournament, your kids can enjoy the playground and the picnic tables in the shade. Participants can sign-up in advance at Meridian City Hall or on Saturday morning in Lions Park beginning at 7 a.m.

Also for the kids, Brandi Hoffman brings her menagerie of animals for a petting zoo and Face Painting will be set up. A diversity of vendors and food trucks will be on hand browse and enjoy. There will be breakfast burritos, corn, nachos, fruit, baked goods, kettle corn, barbecue, T-shirts, gifts, bows, rustic décor, antiques, cosmetics and more. Additionally, the area Farmer’s Market is present on the Saturday morning from 8-noon, with fresh produce and arts and crafts.

For those wanting to start off the day in a more leisurely manner can choose to judge the Saturday morning Bloody Mary contest.

The general Bloody Mary consists of a base spirit – usually vodka – plus tomato juice, followed by salt for flavor, citrus and/or horseradish for bite, spice for heat, and Worcestershire sauce or bacon for that extra layer of flavor. Whereas some say restraint is the name of the game, others will go overboard with the garnishes like celery, pickle, onion and olive skewers. And everybody has their favorite mix of ingredients, so come out and judge some of that delicious morning ‘pick me up.’

A bowl of flavorful chili always tastes good, even though it’s summertime. Check out a good bowl of red at Papi’sTacos Food Truck – they’re cooking up a signature chili batch just for visitors to buy.

All these activities are highlighted by a mobile MC featuring the Bosque Gents and their music as Brian Barrett and son Brice will be moving around the park areas by truck and trailer to provide music and information.

After judging and the awards presentation on Saturday, cookers and guests are invited to stick around for live music and dancing on Saturday evening with an amazing five-piece band.

Muther Mirm & the Mustang Family Band is a family-and-friends affair: Miriam Wallace leads the band, a local resident of Bosque County since 2003. You can regularly see and hear Miriam perform on Twitch.Tv/MutherMirm or locally at Olaf's in Clifton.

She will be joined keyboards and vocals by her daughter Morgan Wallace Tremillo, a 2012 Clifton High School (CHS) graduate and professional musician with a degree from the University of North Texas. Handling drums and vocals will be Miriam’s son Jake Wallace, a 2011 CHS graduate and professional audio engineer and video producer. Morgan and Jake have brought fellow UNT alumni and friends, lead guitarist Scott Morse and bass guitarist Austin Crumrine. The band collectively represents the central strip of Texas between Dallas-Fort Worth, Bosque County, Austin and San Antonio. The band will play a collection of hits specifically meant for you to grab a partner to get up and dance!

The Christian Motorcyclists Association – Hillsboro Chapter with their vision to change the world, one heart at a time through evangelistic outreach primarily, but not exclusively, to the motorcycling community have taken up the challenge to cook in the chili competition also. Come check out their booth and motorcycles during the event.

On Sunday morning, they will be offering a Morning Service at 9 a.m. after a free/love offering burrito breakfast. And the gang will be competing against area Volunteer Fire Departments in the Chili Cookoff. Who will go home with the bragging rights? We want to know!

But that’s not all that’s going on in Meridian. Leading up to the July 4th weekend, the Bosque Valley Golf Course is hosting a night golf tournament, with an amazing fireworks display after dark. See separate flyer for details.

“To be honest, we are just getting started with the first annual version of the Chisholm Chili Cookoff,” Meridian Parks & Rec activities and events director Brett Voss said. “This cookoff has been two years in the making, but we hope to grow it into an even larger and broader event next year.

"Later this summer, the construction of the Chisholm Trail Plaza located on the old county jail site will be completed, and it will become the crown jewel of the Meridian Parks System. And with many of our activities moving to the plaza next year, we hope to add things like a longhorn cattle drive through town, a chuckwagon cooking contest and more.”

The Chisholm Chili Cookoff and all the surrounding activities promises to be a fun, family event with loads of stuff to enjoy. Be sure to check it out! Bring the family, bring your friends, come play, come have fun, come listen to the music, come enjoy Meridian at its best.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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