Cotton Festival Blog No. 2: Chili Bowl


While we are always trying to make improvements to all our Signature Events, we also like to keep them rooted in tradition. That is true of the Cotton Festival, which harkens back to Marana’s agrarian roots, and tries to have a small time carnival feel, while simultaneously providing visitors a first class event.


Even though the festival is nearly two months away, we are conducting weekly meetings to work out all the little details to make your Cotton Festival experience the best we can. From parking to food to the beer garden, we are planning to have everything run as smooth as possible to make the night a success.

Our goal is to take the things that work, and see if we can make them better. One of those things is the chili cook-off. It has been a good event, but the idea was to expand it, and so this year the cook-off has become the Chili Bowl.

The winner of the Chili Bowl earns the title of Marana’s Favorite Chili, which is one coveted championship, but more importantly, the proceeds go to a great cause. We already have several organizations fine-tuning their secret recipes to try and take home the championship. We hear that even several weeks out they are testing recipes, perfecting spice blends, and answering the important questions like “how hot is too hot?” and “beans or no beans?”

Right now groups like Avra Valley Fire, Northwest Fire, the Marana High School Culinary Arts team, Firehouse Subs, Highlands Grille and the Marana Chamber of Commerce have all indicated that they wish to compete, but there are still openings for those who think their chili is the best in Marana. The only catch is you must have access to a commercial kitchen and be able to produce 5 gallons of the good stuff, and be able to serve it at 135 degrees.

For those who don’t cook chili but want to eat chili, they can pay $5 to be a judge and sample all the great offerings. The funds raised by the sampling fee will go to benefit the Community Food Bank in Marana.

The contest will award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as a taster’s choice award.

What’s better than eating some great chili or eating some great chili to benefit a great cause? The whole event is part of the fun of the Cotton Festival.

For more information on the Chili Bowl contact Marsha Johnson at 520-334-7109 or e-mail at