Cook Off History
On a chilly April morning in 1984 less than a hundred folks milled around on the fair grounds for the first Muskogee Chili Cook-Off. There were 19 teams gathered to cook C.A.S.I. Chili as a storm front came through and took down all of the cook's tents.
Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off Crowd PhotoIn 1985 the Second Annual Exchange Club Chili Cook-Off took place at their new location in front of the civic center with 39 teams and a thousand or so folks coming to see what that strange odor and noise was. The cook-off continued to grow and in 1987 barbeque was added. The response was tremendous! Over 50 teams entered some six events and, combined with all the games and contests, the crowds numbered in the thousands for this springtime festival of fun.
In 1993, with the cook-off growing by leaps and bounds, the decision was made to find a larger location to host the event. The Ninth Annual Exchange Club Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off was moved to the Phoenix Plaza Parking area where close to a hundred teams and well in excess of ten thousand people enjoyed the food, friends and fellowship of this annual Exchange Club event.
The Exchange Club Chili and Barbeque Cook-Off has become one of the largest single day events in the area -- attracting tens of thousands to our great City of Muskogee. Retailers tell us that this has become one of their best days for sales. Local restaurants talk of great traffic flow to their businesses. But for all the good food, good fun and good fellowship that this event holds, the main focus still continues from the early years of the Exchange Club involvement. That focus is to raise money for local charities and give back to this community. It has become our way of saying thank you to Muskogee for a great place to work and live.