Chili Cookoff, Outhouse Races, Clementine Open 2016 Old Miners Days

Big Bear Chili Cookoff opens Old Miners DaysThe competition is hot at the Chili Cookoff, sanctioned by the International Chili Society where top chefs advance, but Old Miners Days has pretty cool events.

Like Outhouse Races, horseshoe contest, living history and more. From serious mountain biking to zany parade, Big Bear’s 67th annual celebration of its western heritage sees events on most July weekends. Starting with the Big Bear Chili Cookoff on Saturday, July 16, as the fastest chefs in the west vie for the right to advance to world competition this fall.

The ICS cookoff begins at 10 a.m. in the Village’s Bartlett Parking Lot with live music and dozens of vendors selling Western gifts and souvenirs. Climbing wall, gold panning, face painting, stagecoach races and children’s crafts make a great day of family fun and an inexpensive one since admission is free. Chili tasting kits are $5.

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 and  wine.

Live music on the stage is worth the free admission price in itself and includes Cave favorites Nikki Sparks and Kenny Marquez. Also part of the full lineup is Duke Michaels Band, One Story, the Alec Johnson band, Francesca Jule, and “Old Dawgs” John Phane and Mike Early.

At 1 p.m. the long-running Miss Clementine Contest features contestants age 16-21 dressed in authentic period costumes and attire from about 1860-1910 with the winner netting a $500 scholarship.

The Cookoff also features the 5th annual Outhouse Race which commences around 1:30 p.m. High-speed people-powered portable potties zip down Cottage Lane (near Murray’s). Winning teams receive a cash prize and gift certificates from Old Miners sponsors plus the coveted “Golden Outhouse” trophy and there’s People’s Choice Award for Best Decorated.

Get a cut of the loot by bidding on potties at the 1 p.m. Calcutta Auction and Outhouse Parade. Race-ready outhouses are  available for rent.

Old Miners Days continues the next weekend on the north shore in Fawnskin. First up on Saturday, July 23 at 8:30 a.m. is the Ride ‘N Tie mountain bike race, a politically-correct take on the burro races that Old Miners Days was built on. Two person teams used to race beasts from Pioneer Town to Holcomb Valley; now they ride a single bike over a 10-mile loop, swapping at least twice and both team members must finish together.

Doo Dah Parade is at 10 a.m., rumored to be the world’s shortest as crazy-dressed entrants wind through downtown Fawnskin. Afterwards join Moose Lodge #2085 for food, live music, crafts and children’s games. Spectating is free, parade entry is $10. Loggers Jubilee is tentatively scheduled to follow.

Nikki Sparks entertains at Big Bear Chili CookoffThe following week on July 30 is the popular historical reenactment History Alive Chautauqua at Summit Christian Fellowship Church at 7 p.m. This year’s personality is Jefferson Hunt, who created the first American colony in California and is the father of San Bernardino County. The program is presented by The Friends of the Library.

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. Old Miners Days ends with the July 30 Horseshoe Tournament at Boathouse Lakeside Tavern at 10 a.m. www.OldMiners.org

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