CHUGWATER – From vendors who came from Guernsey to cowboys who came from Canada, whatever your pleasure, if you couldn’t find what you were looking for at the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off, you just weren’t looking hard enough.
People began to roll into the tiny town on Thursday night to get a jump on the crowds. By Friday night, the town of Chugwater (population 192) had tripled in size as crowds began forming first at The Soda Fountain, an iconic restored turn of the century hangout that has been a hangout for over 100 years.
As the sun began to set, the crowd meandered toward the fabled Chugwater Stampede & Saloon where they could get a good meal at a fair price while listening to local musicians fill the Steamboat Stage with tunes gone by but never forgotten.
As the sun broke through the darkness on Saturday, already there was a flurry of activity around Staats Park. By 7:30 runners in brightly colored tennis shoes were gathering at Chugwater School, stretching out and getting ready to run or walk in the second annual Chugwater 5K or as some called it the 5K chug.
The night before, the sun went down and the stars offering little relief from the heat. The morning broke with no wind which allowed the temperature to race along with the runners toward the 100 mark with the heat index somewhere around 110.
Although the race began on time at 8:30 a.m. it felt more like a hot afternoon in Wyoming. By the halfway point of the race, runners looked as though they should be finished with red faces and speaking quotes like, “this is only halfway?” and “oh yeah, the wind which we usually hate can’t help us out now?”
The runners and walkers all finished at just a little over an hour and arrived to finish line at Staats Park about the time things were starting to really cook. Pots of chili, hot salsa, recovering runners and the weather.
Depending upon which time of day you visited the festival, the weather was always changing in one way or another. From bright morning sun to an overcast lunch hour to a smattering of leaded rain and gusty wind in the midafternoon and then back to scorching surface of the sun heat for the rodeo.
There were over 50 vendors, cooking booths where chili, salsa and cobbler contestants were cooking their secret concoctions.
You could buy food, drinks, blankets, trinkets and even solar panels. You could enter the Kiwanis cornhole tournament or participate in the hot pepper contest or the pie eating contest. You could listen to music from three very good bands throughout the day, watch a rodeo, sit down for supper with the community, grab an ice cream at The Soda Fountain, lighter fluid for the grill over at the new Mercantile, grab a beer at the saloon or dance right out loud in the streets… like nobody was watching.
If you like classic cars, Chugwater had it. It you like vintage architecture, it was there, if you wanted to see cowboys flying off broncos at the speed of sound, it was a possibility. And if you just wanted to find a place to sit in the cool grass with an adult beverage and watch the people pass by, it was the place to be.
Don’t look now folks but the Chugwater revival is continuing, bigger and better than ever before. Another jewel in the Platte County crown. Each year they seem to add more events, more contests, more ideas and with each new idea comes more energy and excitement.
It makes you leave wishing it wouldn’t be just a day. It makes you leave reserving your date for next year and it makes you leave wondering what in the round world could they possibly do to top this?
Everyone was pretty sure that they will as the tourists drove out of town watching a guy in a 1940’s Standard Oil service station standing in front of a 1940’s defunct Standard Oil gas station in full ‘40s cap and uniform waving and saying, “Y’all come back now, y’hear?”
Chili Cook-Off award winners:
People's Choice - Jackalop Jack's Kitchen, Peter Inells- Cheyenne, WY
First Place - Karen Hendricks - Broomfield, CO
Second Place - Gary Kuka, Parker, CO
Third Place - UNCLAIMED
Fourth Place - Diamond Coyote - Cheryl Pierson- Aurora, IL
Fifth Place - UNCLAIMED
sixth Place - Happy Chili - Bill Pierson - Aurora, IL
Seventh Place - Hard Rock Chili - John Montgomery - Golden, CO
Eighth Place - UNCLAIMED
Ninth Place - Wyoming Game Chili - Matt Willis - Cheyenne, WY
10th Place - Jackalope Jack's Kitchen - Peter Inells - Cheyenne, WY
11th Place - Joe Kuka - Parker, CO
Red Chili Junior
First Place - Abby Parker, Scottsbluff, NE
Second Place - Mia Arnold, Scottsbluff, NE
Third Place - 'Z's Rockin Red, Zander Allen, Laramie, WY
People's Choice - Jeff's Green Chili - Jeff Metz - Loveland, CO
First Place - Jackalope Jack's Kitchen - Peter Inells - Cheyenne, WY
Second Place - Dustin Ludwig, Torrington, WY
Third Place - Karen Hendricks, Broomfield, CO
Fourth Place - Chili Lab, Lia Swarm - JUNIOR - Cheyenne, WY
Fifth Place - UNCLAIMED
sixth Place - Mean Green, Jeff Allen, Laramie, WY
Seventh Place - UNCLAIMED
Green Chili Juniors
1st - Chili Lab - Lia Swarm
People's Choice - Dustin Ludwig, Torrington,WY
First Place - Dustin Ludwig, Torrington, WY
Second Place - Bronco's Chili - Dave Jorgenson - Ft Morgan, CO
Third Place - L Rancho - Ronnie Lomax - Georgetown, TX
First Place - American Cowboy Beef, Gage Case, Wheatland, WY
Cobbler first Place - Dave Jorgenson - Bronco's Chili , Fort Morgan, CO
First Place - L Rancho - Tate Teter, Georgetown, TX
Second Place - American Cowboy Beef, Wheatland, WY
Car Show Award Winners:
Peoples Choice - Dusty Wedemeyer, w/ 1951 Chevy Pickup Street Rod pre 1949 - David Straub, Cheyenne WY w/ 1947 Chevy Pickup Hot Rod 1950-1969 - Rusty McGuire, Chugwater WY w/ Hot Rod Ford Mud Dragster Resto Mods 1960-1979 - Randy Robert's, Cheyenne WY w/ 1968 Dodge Charger R/T Resto Mods 1980 to Present - Rob Lehr, Cheyenne WY w/ 2007 Ford Mustang Restored 1950-1969 - Paxton Gonzales, Cheyenne WY w/ 1968 Chevy Camaro RS/SS Restored 1970-1989 - Jim Childress, Cheyenne WY w/ 1973 Mustang Mach1 Work in progress - Larry Shepard III, Cheyenne WY w/ 1965 Chevy Imapla SS Pickups pre 1959 - Bill Teter, Chugwater WY w/ 1955 Ford F100 Pickups 1960-1979 - Rob Hellbaum, Chugwater WY w/ 1972 Ford F250 Pickups 1980-1999 - Tommy Chase Best, Cheyenne WY w/ 1994 Ford F350 Pickups 2000 to Present - Sarah Golding, Cheyenne WY w/ 2007 Chevy Trailblazer SS Original 1950-1969 - Kelly Cronk, Chugwater WY w/ 1963 Chevy Impala Original 1970-1989 - Andrew Willett, Cheyenne WY w/ 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car Motorcycles Orginal and Modified - Rick Hansen, Cheyenne WY w/ 2012 Harley Street Glide and 1979 Harely Superglide Lowrider
Rodeo Award Winners:
Broncs first - Wesley Rosengreen second - J.W. Goode
Ranch Rodeo: First - Let’s Go Brandon second - Leoffer Land and Livestock
The name of the rodeo is The Chugwater Roundup
Selle Rodeo Productions ran the event
And Elk Mesa Energy was the presenting sponsor
PICTURE CAPTIONS - photos by Mark DeLap
C1: June Gentle was one of the runners in the Chugwater 5K that was the opening act for the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off.
C2: People came from all over the United States to be a part of the famous Chugwater Chili Cook-Off.
C3: Depending upon what time of day you visited Chugwater, the weather was constantly changing, but one thing that didn’t change was the heat which hovered near triple digits. A young boy was seen with a hand-held fan to his head.
C4: A family from Guernsey who does tie-died clothes as a side business had their booth bright and colorful at the Chili Cook-Off. From left, Magilla Hort, Clay Hort and Sarah Hort.
C5: Prairie Fire, a bluegrass/country trio performed to a huge crowd at the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off last Saturday for the lunch hour.
C6: Rain, which Platte County badly needed threatened and sent some people toward their cars only lasted for about 45 minutes before the sun came out and had people scrambling for their sun block.
C7: The Car show and cruise had over 100 cars that lined the main street of Chugwater. The car show awards were held at the main stage at 2:30 p.m.
C8: Lynn Kirkbride of Chugwater had her colorful bumbershoot open as the rain teased the local crops.
C9: The third band of the day to play was the high energy country band, Lendon James & the Highway 34 Band which played on and off through the contest and awards ceremonies.
C10: Chugwater resident and entrepreneur Jesse Miller organized the car show, the cruise and the judging for the classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. He holds the people’s choice award that was presented to Dusty Wedemeyer, w/ 1951 Chevy
C11: One of the most popular events to the crowd was the hot pepper eating contest. This man was showing that it may have not been that popular after digesting four peppers.
C12: For the fourth year in a row, Katie Case from Wheatland won the hot pepper eating contest. She downed eight hot peppers to win the title.
C13: After the hot pepper eating contest, there was a pie eating contest. Some of the kids who had just been eating peppers were now eating pumpkin pies.
C14: There was more packed into one day than most towns host in a year. Just before the community dinner and street dance was The Chugwater Roundup - Selle Rodeo Productions rodeo. The event began with a moving oration on patriotism and a lone rider carrying the American Flag.
C15: The rodeo drew a packed house and standing room only crowds watched ranch rodeo and bronc busting events.
C16: This cowboy barely got out of the shoot before the bronc busted the cowboy instead of the other way around.
C17: Madelaine McElwee, Miss Rodeo Wyoming presented awards to all who had exemplary chili and salsa and cobbler. First place in the red chili contest went to Karen Hendricks of Broomfield, Colorado.
C18: A cornhole tournament sponsored by Kiwanis was also added to the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off this year.
C19: Nothing says Chugwater Chili Cook-Off like a red haired child eating chips and salsa and chili. Bringing them up right in Wyoming.