The Spilli Chilli cookoff, usually held the first Saturday in June, has been cancelled for this year. The property which has housed the event for the past few years is now to be sold and time does not allow preparing another site for this year. Good news, however, the Bergen family of Castledale, about 10 minutes north of Spillimacheen, has offered to host the event next year at their Quinn Creek Campground. Be sure and watch for all the details next spring.
This event has become a Valley tradition since its humble beginnings in 1995 in a small campground behind the townsite of Spillimacheen. Originally started as a venue for budding musicians, the event was welcomed by aspiring chilli cooks, more seasoned musicians, valley businesses and folks looking for a way to spend a lovely spring day with family and friends and enjoy lots of good food and music. The event outgrew the original location and another one across the river before settling for ten years on the Dunne property just south of Spillimacheen.
The organizers have been adamant about keeping the event free to the public, providing an opportunity for everyone to attend and have a good time. Through the years, Valley musicians have donated their time and talents by entertaining the crowd while chilli cooks concocted sometimes fiery offerings for the brave to sample. Valley businesses have been generous with their donations of prizes for the winning cooks and door prizes for the visitors. The number of visitors topped 700 last year, so it appears the event has fulfilled its purpose.
All is not lost this year however. There will be a street fair celebration on June 2 in Spillimacheen so Valley folks who were looking forward to a mid-valley festival will not be disappointed. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Spillimacheen Trading Post so there will be festivities to mark this milestone. As well, there will be free guided wetland interpretative tours at 8:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. so bring your binoculars and meet at the Spilli Bean Coffee Shop viewpoint. We will depart for a short walk to the Columbia River and surrounding wetlands to learn a bit about the history, geology and wildlife in the area.