ALTON - There’s a chili cookoff at Catdaddy’s Tavern, and with all the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Alton, everybody is a winner.

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Dan Herkert and Cassie Tartar were sitting at Catdaddy’s and teasing each other about who had the better chili recipe, when Judy behind the bar came up with a great idea: Why not have a competition? From 3–6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, you can stop by Catdaddy’s to taste the chili and vote on the winner.

“It was a little friendly trash talk,” Tartar joked. “It started small and it got big real fast.”

They decided they’d put their recipes to the test. Now, it’s up to the Alton community to decide who has the better chili.

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Attendees will complete a blind tasting. They can vote as many times as they want and must contribute $1 per vote. The loser will add an extra $100 to the pot, with all money going to the Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s always good to help the Boys and Girls Club,” Herkert said. “Cat and Judy [who own Catdaddy’s] are huge supporters of everything that Al [Womack, Director of the Boys and Girls Club] and his staff does for the youth in the community. Whatever we make is just a benefit to them.”

While the competition is friendly, Tartar admitted she was getting a little nervous as she listened to Herkert’s stories of winning past chili cookoffs. He shared that he doesn’t follow a recipe; instead, he makes his chili “by feel and by taste” and cooks it for a minimum of 12 hours. He prefers flavor to spiciness, though he promises it will “make you sweat.”

Tartar’s chili is “rustic, chunky” cowboy-style chili, with a spice that will sneak up but not burn. She joked that she wants to ease people into the spiciness.

“Especially New Years Eve, you want a hug first. You’re going to be a little hungover,” she laughed. “It’s a good day for a chili cookoff, for sure.”

They’ll need your help deciding who has the best chili. Stop by Catdaddy’s Tavern at 203 W. 3rd Street in Alton from 3–6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, to cast your vote and help the Boys and Girls Club. Check out the official Facebook event page for more information.

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The Downtown Alton Chili Cookoff 2010