Be prepared as you pass through The Great Republic of Rough and Ready on Rough and Ready Highway on Sunday.
That’s the day of the annual Rough and Ready Chili Cook-Off, and it’s also the day that you may be approached for a voluntary 25-cent toll by one of several lovely dance hall girls as you drive through town.
Col. E. F. Brundage, president of The Great Republic, has issued a proclamation stating the once-historic toll road between Grass Valley and Penn Valley will be re-instated for the day, with the two-bit toll collected for “every wagon, buckboard, dray, coach or horseless carriage seeking passage through the Rough and Ready Grade.”
But once you’re through the toll collectors, you might as well park your conveyance at the local Grange, the Animal Clinic of Rough and Ready or any other site for legal parking and join in the festivities of the annual Chili Cook-Off.
Everything begins at about 8 a.m., when vendors and crafters begin showing their unique wares along “Market Street,” but things really start cookin’ at 9 a.m. when the chefs begin preparing their secret recipes for mouth-waterin’ chili.
Around 11:30 a.m., “Professor” Richard Gill and his world-famous Medicine Man Show will roll into town to entertain and enthrall visitors with his tales of the Old West.
But before that, at about 11 a.m. (and again at 12:30 p.m.), you should keep your heads low as the accomplished re-enactment group, The Blue Canyon Gang, will come to town with guns blazing — perhaps to foil a bank robbery or run some n’er-do-well out of town or prevent other acts of mayhem.
Other events include Rough and Ready’s own Fruit Jar Pickers, providing music and humor from 10-11 a.m.
The key event, however, is the chili tasting. At noon, the
tasting kits go on sale for $5, allowing visitors to taste the various chili concoctions being offered. Don’t be late because the kits go fast.
At 1 p.m., you can begin tasting and voting for the People’s Choice Award, just as the judges are tasting and evaluating the selection of chilis to determine the winner of the $500 first-place and $250 second-place awards.
At 2 p.m. the judges begin not only counting the ballots for the $250 People’s Choice
Award but choosing the two top chilis.
Last year, the two top awards went to two different “Jack Daniels Chili Society” teams, led by Larry Balsley and Betty Libbey.
In between all of this excitement, stroll through Doctor J’s Mini Town, located behind the Old Toll House on the east end of town, or take a walk up the hill to the historic Rough and Ready Cemetery.
Stop in at the historic Fippin Blacksmith Shop to watch our town blacksmith, Dave Baker, work the forge or purchase some official Rough and Ready souvenirs.
Entry (other than the two-bit toll) and parking are free.
All proceeds benefit Rough and Ready nonprofit organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the local Grange No. 795 and the Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary.