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Frequently Asked Questions:


What does ICS stand for?  The International Chili Society (ICS Website here)

What time does it start?

On Saturday, the festival begins at 10 AM and lasts til 5 PM. Opening ceremony will be at 11 AM and chili tasting begins at 11:30 AM and lasts until the chili runs out, usually around 3:00pm

There is no guarantee on how many chilis will be available once the day moves into the later hours, so come early.

Who does the cook-off benefit? 

Our cook-off has benefited a variety of not for profit groups over the past thirteen years, but our primary beneficiaries are the Belton Interfaith Ministerial Association, the Belton Area Museum Association, The Belton Center for the Arts, the  Belton Alliance and the Belton Masonic Lodge #130 Christmas for Kids program.  All but a small percentage is given away to these groups.  We usually only keep about $1200 to help kick start the next year's event and pay service fees etc. until the next year's cook-off.


I attended here last year and I can cook chili better than these folks and I can win it all, so how do I enter? 

Hold tight there buckaroo, we have to figure out what category suites you.  I would assume your delicious chili has ground beef, beans, tomatoes, onions and some secret ingredients that you won’t tell us about.  If that is the case and you are just starting to compete, you might want to enter the ICS Homestyle category (cook on site and qualifies you for the World’s Championships) or just go for the public vote in the People’s Choice Category (bring it from home).  

If you choose to cook the Homestyle, you will prepare it on site the day of the cook-off, but you will also be allowed, actually required, to bring People’s Choice from home to serve to the public.  You could win both categories if you are lucky. If you are confident in your chili skills and would like to have a go at the Traditional Red, Chili Verde and Salsa, you may want to enter those and show everyone how it’s done.  This will require an active ICS membership, which can be purchased beforehand or on the day of the event. 

Can I cook my chili at home and bring it?

Yes AND  No.  You can cook your People's Choice chili at home and bring it with you.  If you are competing in any other category that requires you to cook, you must cook your chili on site.  That includes Homestyle, Red Chili and Chili Verde.

Can I bring my pet? 

We all love our pets.  We all want to spend a lot of time with our pets, but unfortunately not everyone else wants to spend time with our pets.  There will be food that your pet may want to eat.  There may be feet that accidentally step on your pet.  There may be little fingers holding an ice cream cone that your pet would like to eat and accidentally get in the way.  Some folks may be allergic to your pet.  Some people may be afraid of your pet.  Your pet is not everyone else’s pet, so just leave them in the safety of their home.  Service Animals are Welcome

Cut Meat or Grind?? 

That is too political to answer, Cook what you like, but cut has won most years here.

How much does it cost to attend? 

It is FREE for you to come to the cook-off.  You can walk around and enjoy the entertainment, festivities and happiness at no charge.  If you want to taste chili, you can purchase 5 tasting tickets for $5 or buy an unlimited tasting wristband for $15.  There will also be vendors and additional food vendors where you can purchase more stuff.

Where exactly is the cook-off?

The cook-off is in Belton, SC about 25 miles south of Greenville and about 10 miles east of Anderson.

You can use 100 N Main St, Belton, SC 29627 for GPS directions.

I don’t like chili, what else is there for me to eat? 

We have a variety of food vendors from smoked pork chop sandwiches to funnel cakes and baked goods and from tropical snow to homemade pies and other things in between.  If you can’t find something that you like…’re picky.

I am allergic to some stuff, what should I do?

If you are allergic to something that may be in a competitor’s chili, I would suggest not taking the chance.  Some competitors use ingredients that they prefer not to share with the public, it’s their secret, but on that list could be cocoa, onions, MSG, garlic, pork, beef, cinnamon, grape jelly, items made in the same facility as peanuts, tomatoes, non-kosher foods, etc.  There will be emergency personnel on site, but we genuinely hope that we do not have to use their service.

What if it rains?  

The show must go on rain or shine.  We have competitors who make their way from all across the country and we will go on rain or shine.  If the weather is to be a torrential disaster, we will put in place a contingency plan.  This will more than likely be the Belton Community Center.

What are the Rules?

1.  Traditional Red Chili is 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.

2. Chili Verde is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with green chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden. No garnish is allowed.

3. Homestyle Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as the cook's favorite combination of ingredients resulting in a dish seasoned with chili peppers and spices.

4. No ingredient may be pre-cooked in any way prior to the commencement of the official cookoff.  The only exceptions are canned or bottled tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, pepper sauce, beverages, broth and grinding and/or mixing of spices.  Meat may be treated, pre-cut or ground. The ICS does not prefer one over the other.  MEAT MAY NOT BE PRE-COOKED, in any manner. All other ingredients must be chopped or prepared during the preparation period.

5. You must be an ACTIVE ICS member to compete in any ICS competition including Traditional Red Chili, Chili Verde and Salsa. You must be at least 18 years old.

6. The cooking period will be a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of 4 hours.  The exact starting and ending of the cooking period is to be announced by each local sponsoring organization.  Cooking during entire cooking period is at the sole discretion of the contestant.

7. A representative of the sponsoring organization shall conduct a contestant’s meeting, at which time final instructions are to be given and questions answered, no later than 1 hour prior to the official starting time of the cook-off.

8. Contestants are responsible for supplying all of their own cooking utensils, etc. and should be prepared to provide a fire extinguisher and washing station, as they may be required by the sponsoring organization. The sponsors of the cook-off will provide an area for each contestant.

9. Each contestant must cook a minimum of two quarts of competition chili prepared in one pot which will be submitted for judging. Sharing or splitting Chili, Chili Verde or Salsa for judging with another contestant for the purpose of increasing the number of entries in any event will result in suspension of ICS membership for a minimum of one year. Any cook-off chairman, chief judge or scorekeeper knowingly allowing cheating in any way at their event will result in non-sanctioning of their event the following year, no exceptions.

10. People's Choice Chili is governed by the SPONSORING ORGANIZATION and cook-off chairman of each cook-off, NOT THE ICS. The chairman can require 2 gallons with a cash fee. Non-compliance by a contestant of the chairman’s requirement will result in disqualification. Discrimination by cook-off officials will result in non-sanctioning of their event the following year. PEOPLE’S CHOICE CHILI MUST CONTAIN BEANS.

11. Each contestant will be assigned a contestant’s number by the Chief Scorekeeper and given an official 32 oz. ICS judging cup. In order for a cook to receive the judging cup for their specific contest, they must sign the contestant list and provide their active ICS membership number. Each contestant should verify that the number on the bottom of their cup is the same as their assigned contestant number. Each contestant is responsible to deliver their cup, which must be filled to the bottom of the cup’s rim, to the judging area at the official time for judging.

12. Judges will be told that they should vote for the chili, as defined by the ICS, based on the following major 
considerations: good chili flavor, texture of the meat, consistency, blend of spices, aroma and color.

Rules & Regulations 06/2013

If you have questions that you think need to be part of this list, email me at

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