The Topsail area is heating up during the fall with the launch of its first competitive chili cook off and festival.

The debut of the Topsail Chili Festival, hosted by the Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, is sanctioned by the International Chili Society. It will be held Nov. 16 and 17 at the Sneads Ferry Community Center. The event will feature live music, arts and crafts and food vendors and its main attraction: warm bowls of chili made on the spot by talented cooks.

Topsail Chamber Executive Director Craig Stinson said that the festival will be modeled after Havelock’s popular festival held in October.

“The chili festival has pretty standard rules and structure to it; and governed by International Chili Society, they sanction chili cook offs all across the US,” Stinson said. “(Havelock’s) has been going on for over 25 years and it literally draws about 25,000 people.”

The event will kick off with the Verde and Green Chili Cook off on from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and the Red Chili Cook off and Salsa Competition from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. Cash prizes of $750 will be awarded for best red chili and $500 for green chili based on the vote by a local judging panel. The audience will also have a chance to taste the chili and vote to determine honors for a people’s choice award. Stinson said that although the cook off will attract some out-of-town competition, many cooks will come from the area.

“There will be men and women who are regular cooks from the festival circuit,” Stinson said. “There will be someone from Florida and Connecticut, but most cooks will be a local contingent of people and that’s what they enjoy doing.”

In addition to the competition, festival goers can enjoy live entertainment by Sam Melvin and Plan: B from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Ed Somech, Dangers of Stereo and Issac Clowers from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. A beer garden and vendors with arts and crafts, peanuts, kettle corn, cider, honey and more will be on site throughout the day. Stinson said that the chili festival is a great off-season event that locals and tourists can look forward to each year.

“People like it and so we’re going for something interesting to do in the fall,” Stinson said. “Being closer to the coast, the fall and spring is not as heavily populated as summer, so this is another opportunity to bring people into the area.” 



Friday, November 16 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Chili VerdeCompetition


5 to 6:30 p.m.

Live Music: Sam Melvin (Classic Rock and Americana)

7 to 9 p.m.

Live Music: Plan: B (Classic and Modern Rock, Blues)

Beer Tent


Saturday, November 17 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Red ChiliCompetition


2 to 3:30 p.m.

Live Music: Ed Somech (Reggae, Steel Pans)

4 to 6 p.m.

Live Music: Dangers of Stereo (Rock, Blues and Funk)

7 to 9 p.m.

Live Music: Isaac Clowers (Rock and Reggae)

Beer Tent