Big Bear Chili Cookoff, Miss Clementine Contest Open 68th Old Miners Days

Big Bear Chili CookoffFrontier fashion show, zany parade, living history and sanctioned Chili Cookoff mark the 68th annual Old Miners Days over two July weekends.

Celebrate Big Bear’s western heritage with events that range from the hysterical (Outhouse Race and Doo Dah Parade) to the historical (Miss Clementine Contest and Chautauqua). Toss in the family favorite Chili Cookoff in the Village with live music, beer garden, vendors and championship-quality spicy fixin’s and there’s something for everyone.

MISS CLEMENTINE PAGEANT appropriately kicks off Old Miners Days, themed “Celebrating the Women of the Gold Rush,” on Thursday, July 13. Entrants age 16-21 dress in authentic period attire and costumes—complete with accessories—representing Big Bear’s historic gold mining era, roughly 1860-1910. Many pieces are family heirlooms and the winner takes home a $500 educational scholarship. The 6 p.m. show is at Masonic Lodge (385 Summit Blvd.)

BIG BEAR CHILI COOKOFF on Saturday, July 15, is the signature event of Old Miners Days as the fastest chefs in the west vie for the right to advance to world competition this fall. The International Chili Society-sanctioned cookoff begins at 10 a.m. in the Village’s Bartlett Parking Lot with live music all day and dozens of vendors selling Western gifts and souvenirs.

There’s prizes and trophies for best red and green chili, salsa and the people’s choice award as well as “Best Local Restaurant” contest. Honors also go to best local cook, first-time cook and best decorated booth but the real winners are guests who sample a variety of heart warmin’ and burnin’ concoctions…bring the antacids. To douse the fire there’s beergarden with wine plus festival food is available for those who don’t want chili.

The famous Outhouse races are at 1 p.m. as portable people-powered potties roll down Cottage Lane. Each potty-on-wheels must have toilet paper and winners are awarded the coveted Golden Outhouse Trophy. There’s also a People’s Choice award for “Best Decorated Outhouse.”

With children’s area featuring games and crafts the Chili Cookoff is always a great day of family fun. An inexpensive one too since admission is free. Chili tasting kits are $5.

Old Miners Days continue the next weekend on Saturday, July 22 on the north shore in Fawnskin with the Doo Dah Parade. Rumored to be the world’s shortest parade, only three blocks long and an hour in duration,. crazy-dressed entrants wind through downtown Fawnskin at 10 a.m. Afterwards join Moose Lodge #2085 for food, live music, crafts and children’s games. Spectating is free.

History Alive Chautauqua is on July 22 with a new 2 p.m. start. The popular living history reenactment features Eliza Tibbets, one of the founders of the City of Riverside and a California citrus industry pioneer. She’s portrayed by former Big Bear resident Sandra Petterson, who is a docent at Riverside’s historical Mission Inn and portrays Tibbets during the holiday Festival of Lights.

The program is presented by the Friends of the Library at Summit Christian Fellowship Church (41965 Garstin Dr.). Opportunity drawing includes a chance to win a free brunch and tour of Mission Inn.
Admission is free and afterwards refreshments are served at the library across the street. The library is at 41930 Garstin Dr. Call (909) 866-5571.

Support Old Miners Days by purchasing a commemorative souvenir button for only $5. Professional photographer Richard Millener, Old Miners Association president, worked with models Debby Fitzgerald and her daughter Sara to create a scene depicting women panning for gold in Big Bear circa 1860.

Of the thousands of prospectors who ventured west to search for their fortune journals indicate 92% were men; the first women in mining communities mostly worked in restaurants, saloons and hotels. Eventually the number of women in gold mining boomtowns rose but even then they numbered less than 10,000 or 19%.

For buttons or information call (909) 553-2220 or www.OldMiners.org.

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