Meet the 2016 Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off Judges!

Jimmy Don Holmes

Jimmy Don Holmes

Jimmy Don Holmes is a born-and-raised Texan with deep roots in the great state of Mississippi. His great-grandfather moved his family from his native Mississippi to Dolorosa and then to Crawford in search of good farming land. Jimmy Don now lives on that land with his wife, Lori, and their 4 kids. An avid hunter and champion calf roper ,he boasts a Texas-sized appetite and has eaten more chili than some men twice his size. Currently the metal working magician on HGTV’s most popular show in history, Fixer Upper; he takes Joanna Gaines’s sign ideas and makes them into solid steel realities. Stars Over Texas, a custom metal sign company, has become so popular through her store, Magnolia Market, that he no longer takes on custom orders.

Ben Napier

Ben Napier

Ben Napier is owner of Scotsman Co., a woodshop where he makes simple, history-inspired fine furniture from reclaimed wood. Co-owner of Lucky Luxe Heirloom Design with his wife, Erin, together they host the new HGTV pilot Home Town where they help restore historic houses in their hometown of Laurel.  Ben graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Mississippi in 2007. He appears every year as Laurel Main Street’s Loblolly Festival Lumberjack and says he knows chili like his mama knows cooking.


Jeff Good

Jeff Good

Jeff Good is the President of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, parent of three uniquely successful Jackson, Miss. restaurants: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, Broad Street Baking Co., and Sal & Mookie’s. Moving from Salt Lake City, Utah in 1980, Jeff attended Murrah High School and graduated from Millsaps College with a degree in Business Administration. He is past president of both the Jackson Restaurant Association and the Mississippi Restaurant Association and, through Soul City Hospitality, he has an ongoing mission to develop Mississippi’s local food economy.

Jay Cherski

 Jay Cherski

Jay Cherski was born and raised somewhere in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. While attending college in Texas, Jay visited the historic town of Terlingua and experienced his first Chili Cook-off. Jay has been a chili cook-off fan ever since, judging several and frequently competing. He has eaten chili in the jungles of Guatemala, the frozen wastelands of Siberia, and even New York City. He is currently a medical management software consultant for Jefferson Medical Associates in Laurel.


Whitney Pickering


Whitney Pickering

Whitney Pickering’s career began in the test kitchens of Southern Living, spans 20 years with its parent company and includes over 20 cookbook titles as a foods editor, most notably Bounty of Biltmore, a collaboration with the chefs of The Biltmore Estate, and being named National Vice President for Southern Living at HOME. In 2007, the Mississippi Business Journal recognized her as one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Business Women. The next year she was named one of Mississippi’s Top 40 Under 40. She is currently a grant writer for the City of Laurel and an active board member of Laurel Main Street.

Think our panel would like your chili? Create a team and sign up here!

Jones County Sheriff’s Dept wins 2015 MSB Chili Cook Off!

With 27 enthusiastic teams competing and over 1,000 chili-loving attendees coming out to taste their wares, the 4th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off was our best cook off event yet!

Laurel Main Street Executive Director Judi Holifield says, “This is becoming a premiere event for downtown Laurel! It was a great day of southern pride and community spirit.”

Thank you to all who came out to support our teams, sponsors and the downtown revitalization projects of Laurel Main Street!

Congratulations to the winners of the 4th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

Jones County Sheriff's Department 2015 Chili Cook Off Grand Prize Winners

Jones County Sheriff’s Department
2015 Chili Cook Off Grand Prize Winners

Crossroads Catering 2nd Place Winners

Crossroads Catering
2015 2nd Place Winners

Creative Computer 3rd Prize Winners

Creative Computer
2015 3rd Prize Winners

Dunn Roadbuilders 2015 Spirit Award Winners

Dunn Roadbuilders
2015 Spirit Award Winners

Southern Hospitality 2015 People's Choice Award Winners

Southern Hospitality
2015 People’s Choice Award Winners

Thanks to all of the teams who came out to compete for the prized Chili Trophy and the $1,000 grand prize provided by Magnolia State Bank.

“You guys made this year’s cook-off the best so far! It’s people like you that are helping Laurel to quicken back to life. I know everyone can’t win first place with their chili, but the ultimate winner – The City Beautiful, Laurel – is the sole purpose for this and the other events held in historic downtown. (You are all winners in my book!)

Now if you thought the wind this week-end almost blew you off your feet just wait till you findout what is going to go down at next year’s Magnolia State Bank’s 5th Annual Chili cook off. IT’S GONNA BLOW YOU AWAY. We never thought 5 years ago that we would have to cap the entries but you may want to sign up early.

Thanks again and looking forward to next year!!”

– Robby Scruggs, 2015 Chili Cook Off Chair

2015 Cook Off Teams

Jones County Sheriff’s Department
Crossroads Grillin’
Creative Computer
Southgroup Insurance
Chili Chokin’ Pepper Bellies
Three Amigos
Chili Dawgs
Dunn’s Roadkill Brew
Central Sunbelt FCU
Chill Amigos
“Culturalized” Redneck Chili Peppers
Pirates of the Chili Bean
Slow Ahead
Mississippi Power
Helping Hands Carnival Crew
Old Smokey Tent Revival
Amp up the chili man!
Community Bank
Chili Commander
Southern Hospitality
Hot 2 Trot
Red Hot Chili Preppers
Krewe of Chez
Buffalo Fire

Help us to thank our wonderful sponsors and producers

Please visit our sponsors on Facebook to thank them for contributing to the revitalization of our beautiful Downtown Laurel!

Click each sponsor’s logo to leave them a thank you message!

Our Signature/5-Alarm Sponsor

Magnolia State Bank

Our Blazing Sponsor

Sanderson Farms

Our Hot Sponsors

Mississippi PowerCentral Sunbelt FCUCommunity Bank Laurel MSSouthern Beverage CoBancorp Southscrmclogohead

Our Spicy Sponsor


Our Producers

Mandy and Carl Buchanan
Raising Cane’s
Studio 550
Laurel Leader Call
The Chronicle

Thank you for supporting Downtown Laurel!

It’s time for the 4th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

In two weeks, the 500 block of Central Avenue in Downtown Laurel will be transformed. The familiar booths will line the street as local folks walk between them enjoying their wares; judges will make their rounds, whispering about this ingredient or that.

But, this time, there’s something a little different in the air. You see, the annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off is about more than chili recipes and fabulous prizes, it’s about the impact you’ll see long after the contest is over.

Did you know that $1 spent at a local restaurant can result in 88 cents returning to the local economy? That’s nearly double the amount of retail stores and other local businesses, and over 4 times the return from big box stores and national chains. Local restaurants help fuel the economy like no other business, and events like the Chili Cook Off go a long way toward attracting our best chefs and entrepreneurs to the downtown area.

In addition to sparking the imaginations of Laurel entrepreneurs, the Chili Cook Off also serves to directly impact the downtown area by helping to fund the LMS Facade & Amenities grant. This grant helps downtown business owners improve the exterior facade of their buildings, provides amenities like parks, benches and trash receptacles, and helps to build the economic strength of our beautiful downtown.

Want to compete in this year’s cook off?

Does your organization, business or group have a team ready to face the competition during the 2015 Chili Cook Off?

Register before February 16 here!

The competition is fierce every year as teams compete to win it all! See what Bobby has to say about it:

What you can expect from the 4th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off

2015 Chili Cook Off Raffle Prize - Bayou Classic Pot

2015 Raffle – Bayou Classic Pot

On Saturday, February 21st from 10:00 to 2:00 you might find yourself standing amidst the booths on Central Avenue, listening to music from local DJ Jim Thornhill while taking in the delicious smell of over 22 different chili recipes. The teams, competing for the $1000 prize and consisting of local groups, organizations, businesses and more, will be waiting to fill your “bottomless” Carl Buchanan pottery bowl as you make your own judgements of who should take home the prized chili trophy.

If you come early, you’ll get to watch as each team prepares their recipe from scratch. No pre-chopping or cooking is allowed! Each team will prepare and cook their secret chili recipe right out in the open for all to watch. Judges will circulate at noon, watching and waiting for their chance to decide who will win it all.

Children will get free all-you-can-eat chili and hot dogs, while adults will enjoy either the $10 all-you-can-eat bowl or the $25 “bottomless” Carl Buchanan keepsake pottery bowl beginning after the judging at 12:30. A raffle will be held at the end of the event and the winner will take home a 10 gal cast iron Bayou Classic Jambalya pot and tripod stand. Tickets for the raffle are $10 for 1 or $20 for 3 and can be purchased from any LMS member or at the event.

Art activities will be available for children of all ages!

Thank you to our incredible Sponsors and Producers!

Events like the Chili Cook Off just wouldn’t be possible without the support and backing of local businesses. These sponsorships help pay for the prizes, supplies and more! Their donations also help fund the Laurel Main Street Facade & Amenities grant and are directly responsible for the improvements you see in Downtown Laurel.

Our Signature/5-Alarm Sponsor

This year’s signature sponsor is Magnolia State Bank. We are so thankful that they provide financial support and helping hands every year to make this great event a successful one.

Magnolia State Bank

Our Blazing Sponsor

Sanderson Farms


Our Hot Sponsors

Mississippi PowerCentral Sunbelt FCUCommunity Bank Laurel MSSouthern Beverage CoBancorp Southscrmclogohead

Our Spicy Sponsor


Our Producers

Event producers provide in-kind support of the event by providing products, services or advertising to make the event a reality. Our valued producers this year are Mandy and Carl Buchanan, who provide our beautiful “bottomless” chili bowls, Raising Cane‘s who provides tea and lemonade, Studio 550 for helping to organize the event, and the Laurel Leader Call and The Chronicle for providing advertising space.

The 2015 Chili Trophy Tour

6623929_GBefore the event, watch for updates from us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter about the 2015 Traveling Chili Trophy Tour! The beautiful chili trophy, carved by chainsaw artist Dayton Scoggins, will be on display at various restaurants throughout Downtown Laurel during lunch or dinner. Take a photo of the trophy and post it to social media with the hashtag #chilitrophytour2015, tag Laurel Main Street, and you’ll be entered to win a FREE long-sleeve Laurel Main Street t-shirt!

The 2015 Chili Trophy Tour will kick off this Friday, February 13 at Cafe La Fleurs in Downtown Laurel. It will remain there through Valentine’s Day, Saturday February 14, during their special opening hours for the holiday. Be creative with your photo and show off your #iliveinlaurel spirit!

Join us February 21, 2015 in Downtown Laurel for the 4th Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off!

Join the fun and help us welcome the crowds at the 2015 MSB Chili Cook Off!

On February 21st, 2015 Downtown Laurel will come alive as the thrill of intense competition, the cool, crisp air and the sounds of the crowds, hungry for a taste of this year’s winning recipe, fill the streets of our beautiful historic district.

Don’t miss the experience and exposure of the 2015 Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off. Join us this February for one of Laurel Main Street’s most popular events and get your business, and your famous chili recipe, in front of over 3,000 local customers and chili-lovers.

Compete for a $1,000 GRAND PRIZE

Sanderson Farm's Wins 2014 Chili Cookoff

Do your friends beg to try your latest culinary creation? Is your signature chili the talk of every family get-together?

Here’s your chance to show off your favorite recipe and compete for our fabulous prizes, all while contributing to the continued growth and revitalization of our beautiful Downtown!

Prizes generously provided by Magnolia State Bank

  • Grand Prize: $1000 & the coveted traveling chili trophy
  • 2nd Prize: $500
  • 3rd Prize: $250
  • People’s Choice: Hand-crafted pottery by Carl Buchanan
  • Spirit Award: Hand-crafted pottery by Carl Buchanan

Assemble your team of 5 or less members, gather your ingredients (all chili must be cooked on site) and prepare to face our expert judges!

Will your team bring home the $1,000 grand prize and the traveling chili trophy?

Forms & Information

Download the forms below and return them to Laurel Main Street at 409 Oak St by February 16, 2015 and get ready to delight the crowds and defeat the competition on February 21!

ALL 2015 CHILI COOK OFF FORMS (ZIP FILE)2015 Entry Form2015 Rules and Regulations2015 Schedule2015 Sponsorship Information

Sponsorship Opportunities

southern-magnoliasThis ever-growing event is the place to be this February for your Laurel business!


The benefits of sponsoring a fun, family-friendly event such as this are sure to reach far beyond the day itself. Enjoy positive exposure while providing local consumers with an experience they’re sure to remember – right here in Downtown Laurel!

Thank you to Magnolia State Bank for their 3rd consecutive 5-Alarm Sponsorship! Their generous support is vital to the success of this popular event as they directly provide the funds for our phenomenal prizes and event marketing. Thank you to Sanderson Farms for being a Blazing Sponsor!

$1,000 Blazing Sponsor

  • Business feature LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Free cook off team entryChoice of space at event
  • Logo on event poster
  • Six Chili tickets for your guests
  • Six T-Shirts for your guests

Become A Blazing Sponsor

$500 Hot Sponsor

  • Business feature LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Free cook off team entry
  • Choice of space at event
  • Name on event poster
  • Four Chili tickets for your guests
  • Four T-Shirts for your guests

Become A Hot Sponsor

$250 Spicy Sponsor

  • Business name listed LMS event page/Facebook/newsletter
  • Name on event poster
  • Two Chili tickets for your guests
  • Two T-shirts for your guests

Become A Spicy Sponsor

Please remit payment to: Laurel Main Street, PO Box 1256, Laurel, MS 39441
Memo: Chili Cook off 2015 Sponsorship
DEADLINE: February 6, 2015

Cook Off Chair, Robby Scruggs 601.319.0098 or Laurel Main Street, 601.433.3255


Enter to win this year’s raffle!

You could take home the Bayou Classic 10-Gal. Cast Iron Jambalaya Pot & Tripod Stand! Get your tickets now!

Tickets for this year’s Chili Cook Off Raffle can be purchased from any LMS Board Member or at the event. Tickets are 1 for $10 or 3 for $20.

3rd Annual Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off Recap

Sanderson Farm's Wins 2014 Chili Cookoff

First Place Team – Sanderson Farms: pictured left to right: Steven Bonesia, Brian Schmoekel, Peter Boehme and Drew Cole.

The Chili Cook Off was one for the record books!

The weather was perfect, the competition was fierce and a good time was had by all.

In the end, the Sanderson Farms team and their chicken-based chili was the best decided by the panel of judges. They went home with traveling Chili trophy and $500.

The second-place team and winner of $300 was State Farm and third place and $100 went to Pirates of the Chilibean.

The Chili-Cooking Pepper Bellies from the Magnolia Wireless team won the People’s Choice award.

The team from Sleepy Sam’s Mattress Club won the Spirit Award for its elaborate decor.

Raffle results: Bill Loving won the mattress set from Sleepy Sam’s and Jason Cook won a Big Green Egg grill.

This year’s Best Booth Display Award for the booth that displayed the most overall spirit went to Sleepy Sam’s.

Thank you to the following sponsors!

5-Alarm Sponsor

The Magnolia State Bank

Blazing Sponsor

Sanderson Farms

Hot Sponsors

Burroughs Companies


Southern Beverage

Laurel Machine and Foundry Co.

Mississippi Power Company

Magnolia Wireless

Michael J. Axton, CLU, ChFC

Kyle Robertson, PLLC, Attorney at Law

Spicy Sponsor

Gholson, Burson, Entrekin & Orr, PA

Eagle Transportation

This event is also sponsored in part by:  The Laurel Leader-Call, Sleepy Sam’s, Scruggs Photography, Studio 5 fifty, Mandy and Carl Buchanan and Adcock Pool, Spa and Billiards

Thank you!