By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2014
A festivalgoer samples one of the many varieties of chili at the Claremore Bluegrass & Chili Festival coming up this year September 4-6 at the Claremore Expo.
Award-winning musical performances, a competitive chili cook-off, vocalist competitions, marketplace shopping, a car show and other family-friendly activities are on tap for the 35th annual Bluegrass & Chili Festival. Set for September 4-6 at the Expo Center grounds, an estimated 30,000 people will converge to enjoy what has become a Claremore tradition, according to Dell Davis, Claremore Chamber of Commerce director.
“We have seen tremendous growth since the venue moved to Claremore,” says Davis. Prior to moving to Claremore 15 years ago, the event was set in Tulsa. “I think it speaks well to the event that we’ve lasted 35 years,” she adds. Davis credits the event’s long-running success in Claremore to the family-oriented atmosphere, wonderful sponsors to support it, as well as outstanding volunteers who give back to their community.
Headline entertainment scheduled to date include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Rhonda Vincent, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Grascals, Mountain Heart, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Adkins & Loudermilk and a host of regional and local entertainers. “Three stages of entertainment and all concerts are free,” she says. “And the cost is only $10 per carload for on-site parking.”
In addition to the free concerts, other musical entertainment highlights include the “Junior Showcase,” designed to give talented youth, 21 and under, stage exposure and experience in a non-competitive venue. An acoustic guitar will be awarded in a drawing of all participants.
Area vocalists will also be competing for “The Best Country in the City Vocalist Competition.” Vocalists of all ages will be vying for a $500 cash prize. Potential contestants must submit a demo to be considered for participation in the event by August 22 to give judges time to determine the finalists who will participate on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Other family activities include the indoor Festival Market at the Expo with a variety of crafts, services and businesses. A Kiddie Korral with free activities will be available, along with an Open Car Show, sporting classic and current beauties.
Festival organizers are excited for the addition of the Oklahoma State Cook-off on Friday. On Saturday, the tradition continues with the Mid-America Regional Chili Cook-Off will be sizzling with The International Chili Society Division (ICS) winning cook representing the Festival in the World Cook-off that boasts a $25,000 first prize. A non-profit division is open to non-profits, schools and churches, with the winner receiving a $1,000 first prize. Open and corporate division teams will vie for awards – and bragging rights. All teams will also compete for booth decorations, showmanship and ham-manship honors. Festival attendees can get in on the “hot fun” by sampling chili with an official taster kit to help determine the Will Rogers People’s Choice winning chili.
New this year on Friday night is a Chili Cook-off for ICS members only. The winner of this competition will qualify to go onto compete in the World Cook-Off. “There will be two opportunities, both on Friday night and on Saturday, for ICS members to qualify,” says Davis.
Chili Cook-off Sponsors include Caseco Truck Body, Air Products, Central Plains Cement Company, ONG and Reasor’s. Junior Showcase sponsors are Mike Davis Music & Sound and McDonalds while Wal-Mart is sponsoring the Best Country in The City competition. Car Show Sponsors include Sonic America’s Drive-In, IBC Bank, Route 66 Melton Sales, Bennett’s Route 66 Pharmacy and Suburban Chevrolet. The Festival’s Major Sponsors are RCB Bank, Big Country 99.5, City of Claremore, The News on 6, GRDA, Bancfirst, RSU Public TV and Claremore Chamber of Commerce
“It takes a team to produce this event every year. This event is important to our community for many reasons: quality of life, visitors who attend, and of course the continued economic impact is important,” says Davis.
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After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.