South Dakota Magazine visits Vermillion's Chili Blues event When the sun goes down Oct. 2, Vermillion turns up the heat.
For 14 years, Dakota Day revelers have ended a day of homecoming celebration at the Washington Street Art Center. In the September/October issue of South Dakota Magazine, managing editor Jerry Wilson samples the cook-off cuisine and the music at Chili Blues.
In 1991 the Vermillion Area Arts Council revived the abandoned St. Agnes church building north of the Clay County courthouse and made it a sanctuary for the arts. Since then the art center has seen dozens of art shows, classes and dramatic and musical performances � and the annual arts fund raiser, Chili Blues.
The idea came from Vermillion artist and regional landfill and recycling manager, Phyllis Packard, who with son Aaron also operates the Main Street Gallery. Each October, a dozen of Vermillion's best cooks prepare huge pots of their best chili, a regional band plays blues or other danceable music, and members of the Society for Creative Anachronism tend bar, dressed in 16th century attire. The whole community has fun, while raising money to support the arts.
Vermillion is not Terlingua, Wilson observes. Not every chili served is guaranteed to clean the plaque off your teeth. But part of chili's charm is its adaptability.