The Chili & Salsa Cook-off is cancelled this year.

Organized for the past 23 years by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland, the cook-off had become a bit of a fall tradition in Sioux City, offering the public a chance to taste numerous recipes made by competitors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland announced the cancellation “with a heavy heart” on its website, and expressed feelings of gratitude toward the community support enjoyed by staff throughout the years.

Executive director Lori Twohig said the organization was going through a transition after its Over The Edge event and was not able to dedicate staff to this year’s Chili & Salsa Cook-off without hindering its key programs.

Cooks and chili connoisseurs from all across Siouxland and beyond competed in the contest. The resulting recipes could then be savored by cook-off visitors, who could cast their votes for the best chilis and salsas.

Judges also critiqued the competitors’ final products. Awards were typically announced later in the cook-off.

“It drives some competition and was always a good opportunity for us to raise awareness about what we’re doing,” said Twohig. “It was the kickoff to fall. In Siouxland, it had become a traditional [event].”

Having been the executive director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland for a little more than a year, Twohig said she was disappointed to withhold the Chili & Salsa Cook-off.

“The board and I really discussed it -- it was a hard decision to make,” she said. “We decided we had to put our programs first for right now.”

Funds made at the cook-off directly benefitted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland. Despite not being able to celebrate its 24th year, Twohig said the Chili & Salsa Cook-off will likely not be gone for good.

“I have received a lot of feedback from people that they are very sad we are not having it this year,” said Twohig, who fondly remembered helping out with last year’s Chili & Salsa Cook-off. “It was such an amazing experience. Everybody was so excited for it and all the different chili.”

Confident that the annual cook-off will return to Siouxland, Twohig said the resulting time could bode well for organizers who could utilize the break to help make improvements to the event.

“It’s relatively safe to say that it will make a reappearance.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland is an organization devoted to nurturing children and strengthening the community and is dedicated to provide children facing adversity with strong one-to-one support and lasting relationships.

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Weekender reporter

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