Some like it hot and some like it mild, but it will all be up for sampling at the Grand Sierra Beer & Chili Festival, returning to the Biggest Little City Oct. 21-22. The event will once again play host to the International Chili Society’s 2017 World’s Championship Chili Cookoff. And what goes best with chili and beer? Live music, BMX shows and energy drinks, of course. The best part of all is that proceeds benefit the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

On the grounds of the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, more than 200 of the world’s top chili chefs will vie for the title of World Champion, which comes with a total prize package of $50,000, as well as the honorable People’s Choice Award. The sanctioned event is the culmination of a series cook-offs from around the country. Categories will include home-style chili, salsa, chili verde and traditional red chili. 

And if you’re an aspiring chili judge, show up from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday for a certified chili judge class at the Grand Sierra Resort. Students will receive a certified chili judge’s handbook, a personalized name badge and a certificate of completion that you’re an International Chili Society-certified chili taster. Tuition is $65 for new judges, $45 for ICS members.

For entertainment, the Monster Energy BMX Team will bring three professional riders to showcase backflips, tailwhips and more high-flying insanity during three 45-minute shows daily: 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Both days will also feature live music from popular regional groups, including the Novelists, Con Brio and the Spazmatics. And of course, there will be crafts to browse and buy.

All the food

On Sunday, check out the Chef’s Chili Cookoff Challenge, featuring local chefs serving chili to the public noon to 5 p.m. A few of the competitors include local restaurants Café at Adele’s, BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company, Lucky Beaver Bar & Burger, the Little Waldorf Saloon, Pignic Pub & Patio, Bam!Dog Righteous Hot Dogs and the Mustard Seed.

“We are incredibly excited for this weekend’s event and we’re even more excited to welcome back some of our areas most popular restaurants,” said Erin Wootan, director of special events for Grand Sierra Resort. “Last year, Adele’s and BJ’s BBQ won over the crowd, and we’re sure that this year’s list of participating restaurants will make for an even more exciting competition.”

Restaurants will be serving homemade chili during the entire event, with different restaurants in attendance each day. Additionally, the restaurants inside GSR will also be competing for the title of ‘People’s Choice’ and will be serving throughout the event.

The sudsy side of the festival will feature regional craft beers from Alaskan Brewing Company, Alibi Ale Works, Ballast Point, Battle Born Beer, Belching Beaver, Big Stump Brew Co., Brasserie Saint James, Deschutes Brewery, Drake’s Brewing, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Great Basin Brewing Company, Hop Valley Brewing Company, Lead Dog Brewing, Lost Coast Brewery, Micron Beers, New Belgium Brewing, Revision Brewing Company, Saint Archer Brewing Company, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Tap It Brewing Co., The Brewer’s Cabinet and Tonopah Brewing Company.

In addition to the regional craft brews, there will be staple favorites like Blue Moon, Coors, Samuel Adams and Guinness.

Admission to the festival is free, with tasting packages available for purchase before or during the event: $50 includes unlimited chili tasting, unlimited beer sampling and a commemorative tasting glass; $40 gets you unlimited beer and a commemorative tasting glass; or just go for the $20 unlimited chili tasting package. Smaller tasting packages, available for purchase only during the event, are $5 for three tastings or $10 for six. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeastern California and Northern Nevada will receive $1 for each unlimited tasting package sold.

To learn more about the event, click here. To register for the certified chili judge class, call 904-379-2558. Walk-ins are accepted.

Entertainment lineup


  • The Novelists: Noon-1 p.m.
  • Hot Rod Rebellion: 1:45-2:30 p.m.
  • Reckless Energy: 3:15-4 p.m.
  • Spazmatics: 4:45-6 p.m.


  • Atomika: Noon-1 p.m.
  • Arizona Jones: 1:45-2:30 p.m.
  • Shane Dwight: 3:15-4 p.m.
  • Con Brio: 4:45-6 p.m.
Read or Share this story: