It wasn't a first for the winner of the People's Choice award for best chili at the 15th annual “Lip Rippin’ Chilympics Chili Cook-off” in Murrells Inlet on Sunday.
Dead Dog Saloon captured the honor for the second year in a row with their short-listed concoction called “Windy Dog,” according to Peter Haentjens, a spokesman manning the tent and handing out $1 sample cups long after the votes were in.
About 27,000 chili sample cups left one of two ticket tents after they were purchased at the sprawling new location encompassing the outer areas of Hot Fish Club, King Street Grille and Morse Park.
“We tripled our space, went through 36 kegs of beer, had 10 bands – that included two national acts,” said an out of breath Bruxanne Hein, board member chairwoman for the Surfrider Grand Strand chapter.
The Grand Strand chapter of Surfrider works to keep beaches clean from Little River to Pawleys Island, as well as educate the public and protect beach access. The Chilympics serves as the organization’s annual fundraiser.
Money raised at the event, which was expected to attract more than 8,000 attendees, will pay for projects such as beach sweeps, the creation of ocean friendly gardens, and the placement of recycling cans on the jetty walk connecting the restaurants along the inlet.
Hein said the fundraising goal this year was $50,000 – $10,000 more than last year's event which was held at Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet. Hein said the final numbers would not be available until later in the evening on Sunday but anticipated the results would likely exceed their expectations.
“We've been planning this for five months,” she said noting that everyone who worked the event donated their time as volunteers.
Their efforts could be counted in cars. Lining almost the entirety and on both sides of Frontage Road – a shuttle service struggled to keep up with the influx.
“[At least] it's not a parking lot,” said Michael Sarter.
Sater’s mother Krista Aldridge of Murrells Inlet was catching up with friends Willow Owen of Pawley's Island and Ethel Eldridge of St. Stephen in New Brunswick, Canada, and is visiting South Carolina to see a great-grandchild and other family members.
Aldridge and Eldridge both said the Asian chili was their favorite while Owen said hers was the pumpkin squash chili.
First time vendor and former attendee Sarah Jones of Stoned Beautiful hadn't yet decided which she liked better as she pointed out to the still water and almost setting sun and said “but this is my view.”
Fog and fires got the chili morning started and by 8 a.m., flames burned under grills and the weight of metal pots as Chilimasters added ingredients that would soon produce up to 30 gallons of chili.
In their fourth year as competitors at the cook-off, teammates Steven Allen, Mike Carter and John Kern from Greg Norman's Australian Grille had the beans simmering since about 7 a.m., said Allen, executive chef for Norman's.
The trio was busy dicing Wayu beef while adding the rest of what would soon become 35 gallons.
“Left overs? What left overs?” they echoed in unison.
With more than 40 competitors, multiple vendors, the family- and pet-friendly event is well-liked and attended by local residents.
“We love it, it's a great local event and a favorite,” said Sheena Beverly of Murrells Inlet.