Magnolia State Bank Chili Cook Off Rules

Teams and Times 

Teams may have no more than 5 members, including one team captain. The captain will be the liaison between Laurel Main Street and the team.  $100 entry fee per team per judging category, payable online or at the Captains meeting.

Set-up starts at 6:00 a.m. on the second Saturday in February, fire up & start cooking at 7:00a.m.  Check-in 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. & complimentary VIP breakfast & beverages

The Chili Cook Off will be open to the public from 11am until 3pm. The winners are announced at 2:00 p.m. 

Judging will begin at 12:00 p.m.


Cooking will take place on the 500 Block of Central Avenue, downtown Laurel.

Preparation and Cooking

All chili must be cooked ON SITE the day of the cook-off, FROM SCRATCH, NO PRE-CHOPPING, and NO PRE-COOKING. All chili must be prepared out in the open, no cooking in motor homes, etc.

From Scratch is defined as starting with raw meat.  No marinating is allowed.

Commercial chili powder is permissible, but complete chili mixes are NOT permitted.

Thickeners such as cornmeal, flour, etc. are permissible.

Teams must prepare and cook chili in as sanitary a manner as possible. Cooks must provide all cooking and serving utensils, but electricity will be provided.  Any chairs, coolers, tent, tables, paper towels or other cooking accessories must also be provided by the cooks. Laurel Main Street will provide serving cups, spoons and paper towels for the public.

Each head cook is responsible for preparing one pot of chili that he/she intends to be judged.  Only one judging cup may be turned in from that pot.  In addition, each team must prepare at least 5 gallons of chili to help feed the crowd. 

At no time should you leave cooking chili unattended and a CLASS K FIRE EXTINGUISHER is required (by the city) for each team to have on site.

Rules and regulations:  There will be TWO categories, TRADITIONAL RED CHILI, defined by the International Chili Society as ANY kind of meat or combination of meats cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.  No garnish is allowed.  HOMESTYLE CHILI, defined by the International Chili Society as the cook’s favorite combination of ingredients resulting in a dish seasoned with chili peppers and spices. 

Judging Preparation

Between 8:00 a.m. & 9:00 a.m. teams check in at the Studio 550.  A judging coordinator will assign an entry cup, a secret number, turn-in time, supply bag.

Turn-in times for each team are set. No changes to a team’s time will be made.  A turn-in window of 10 minutes before and after the set time will be recognized.  Cups turned in after that time will NOT be accepted for judging, LMS board members pick up cups from team.

Cups will be completely filled with chili, no garnishments, etc. for the judges tasting.

Chili cooks must sign their secret number slips in ink, with their first and last name, at the time judging cups are issued.  Winners will not be eligible if their secret numbers are unsigned when presented.  You must present your signed secret number to win.

All chili cooks may be required to eat a spoonful of their own chili from their judging cup before turning it in for judging.  


Judges will vote for the chili they liked best based on the following major considerations:

COLOR: Chili should look appetizing; reddish brown is generally accepted as good.

AROMA: Chili should smell good indicating what’s in store when you taste it.

CONSISTENCY: Chili must have a good ratio between sauce and meat.  It should not be dry, watery, lumpy, grainy, or greasy.

TASTE: Taste should consist of the combination of the meat, spices, etc. with no particular ingredient being dominant.

AFTERTASTE: The aftertaste or bite is the heat created by the various types of spices or peppers.

The decision of the judges is final.


Judges Choice Awards

After tasting all eligible chili, the judging panel will award a winner in each category.

Traditional--$1000.00, custody of the Chili Cook Off red pepper trophy for one year

Homestyle--$1000.00 custody of the Chili Cook Off chili pot trophy for one year

$300 second place is awarded in each category as well

People’s Choice Award

When each person buys a bowl of chili, they will receive a ticket. Patrons can place their ticket into a scoring bucket placed at each team’s booth.  The tickets will be counted, and winner determined.  

The Captain will receive $200 and a Jeremy Brooke platter.

Spirit Award

Teams are encouraged to decorate their booth and put up signs identifying your chili or team name.  Even if your chili doesn’t win, you can still have the most spirit!  

The Spirit award is decided by a team of secret judges who will judge the booths and determine who has displayed the most spirit.  

The Captain will receive $200 and a Jeremy Brooke platter.


Mandatory pre-cook off team meeting is Monday PRIOR TO second Saturday in February, 5:30pm, Studio 550 (550 Central Avenue, downtown Laurel.) For more information contact Robby Scruggs, 601.319.0098, Laurel Main Street, 601.433.3255, or