Chili Blues Cook-Off adds heat to USD Dakota Days

Musicians Mike and Jay, Vermillion artist Virginia Johnson, and a dozen area chefs are cooking up a tasty celebration of food and music at Vermillion Area Arts Council's 22nd annual Chili Blues Cook-Off on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Spicy, mild, vegetarian and Texas-style, the cooks will have a chili to suit all. The event, starts at 6 p.m. at the home of the Vermillion Area Arts Council, the Washington Street Arts Center, 202 Washington St., Vermillion. The annual event coincides with the University of South Dakota's Dakota Days homecoming celebration.

Chili Blues guests will cast votes for their favorite chili to win the "People's Choice" award. Three judges from the community will also weigh in to award the "Judge's Choice" to their favorite chili concoction.

In addition to chili selections, the cook-off will feature a variety of cornbreads, side dishes and desserts. Soda, beer and wine will be available for an additional purchase.

Mike Hilson and Jay Gilbertson will entertain the hungry guests throughout the evening. The Yankton duo got together in 1987 when Mike returned from studying jazz performance at North Texas State University. There he was "bit by the blues bug" in the music of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jay brought his Neil Young-like voice and guitar playing to the duo. Mike and Jay's guitars and voices are a perfect blend. Audiences sing along as they perform songs by Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, John Prine and other favorites.

Virginia Johnson's stunning acrylic paintings will surround the gallery with colorful landscapes and flowers. After 36 years on the faculty of the University of South Dakota School of Medicine, Johnson retired as Professor Emeritus. Since 2009, she has devoted herself to painting.

She says, "It all makes sense. Assets in visual spatial relationship, pattern recognition and visual memory are critical to surgery, chromosome analysis and syndrome identification. Medicine is an Art. … The avocation of painting has become a lifeline in my retirement years."

Tickets to Chili Blues are $10 for each Vermillion Area Arts Council adult member; $15 for non-member adults; $5 for children ages 11-18, and free for children ages 10 and under.

Pictured are musicians Mike and Jay. (Submitted photos)

Pictured are musicians Mike and Jay, and an example of Virginia Johnson’s artwork. (Submitted photos)

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