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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is included in the admission price?

Admission includes access to all Artisan/Retail vendors, food & beverage vendors, free chili tastings (while supplies last), live entertainment and opportunity to vote for your favorite chilis!  Food and beverages available for additional cost.  Tickets may be purchased online in advance (see Tickets on this website) - until Wed Sept 4, 2024.  Those tickets can be picked up at Will Call, at the main gate.  After Wed Sept 4, 2024, you must purchase tickets at the gate. 

What items are NOT allowed at the event ?
NO DOGS allowed at Big Chili -- even well behaved dogs.  Please leave your canine companions at home.

Tent canopies, clam shell style tents are not allowed. 
Chairs will be available for seating under the shade tents however quantities are limited.
  Bring your own if you wish.

No Drones allowed.  For your safety, Big Chili is a NO DRONE ZONE.

Marijuana is not allowed in public places - including Big Chili!

NO SMOKING allowed in Big Chili - due to park rules and regulations.  Smoking allowed  

    at least 25 ft away from and outside of event fencing boundary. 

What forms of payment are accepted for admission at the Main Front Gate and for purchasing beverage tickets ?
Cash and credit cards are accepted.  No checks.


What are the best options for parking?
Parking in/around Buchanan Rec Center/Buchanan Park is limited.  Plan ahead and allow time to park where you are not blocking residences and businesses.  Big Chili is offering a FREE bus shuttle from Evergreen Middle School (2059 Hiwan Drive) and Bergen Valley Elementary (1422 Sugarbush Drive) to the event.  Shuttles run 9:30am - 5:30pm.

Is there handicapped parking available?
Yes.  Handicapped parking is available in the upper parking lot of Buchanan Rec Center, just adjacent to the main gate event entrance.  Handicapped parking is first come, first served.  The entire event takes place on grass.


Is re-entry allowed in to the event? 
Yes.  Be sure to receive a hand stamp when you leave.


How do I buy a beverage at the event?
Non-Alcoholic Beverages - Food vendors will sell non-alcoholic beverages for cash.  A local PTA organization will sell water (1 ticket per bottle) as a fundraiser for their organization.  Buy the tickets at one of two Beverage Ticket booths.
Alcoholic Beverages - Alcoholic beverages will be sold by tickets.  Beverage menu options include beer, wine and margaritas.  Go to a Beverage Ticket booth and purchase the desired number of tickets.  ID required.  You will receive a  wristband after your ID is checked.  Tickets cost $1 per ticket.  Prices range from 7 to 8 tickets per beverage.

How do I vote for my favorites chilis?
When you enter the event, you will receive a ballot to take notes of your tastings and how you want to vote.  When you are ready to vote, go to the Voting Booth (look for the green & white checkered flags) near the park score shack.  Tear off the appropriate tab on your ballot and place it in the appropriate voting tube.  Volunteers will be available to assist you with your voting.  You will vote for Best Red Chili, Best Green Chili, Best Vegetarian and Best Showmanship.  BALLOTS MUST BE TURNED IN BY 3:00PM.  Awards will be presented on the Main Stage from 3:30 - 4:15pm.

What is the Best Showmanship category? 
You decide which Chili Cook is worthy of this award based on best decorated booth, theme, costume, audience appeal and who is having the most fun!

Are kids welcome at Big Chili?  
Yes, absolutely!  This is a family event.  Kids can participate in the Kids Firefighter Challenge in the front parking lot from 10:30 - 11:45am.  They get to try on a mini-firefighter jacket and hat and get their hand at the hose (with assistance from volunteer).  All participants receive a special recognition ribbon.  The Buchanan Park playground is also available for kids.

Will event merchandise be available to purchase?  
Yes, Big Chili aprons, pot holders, t-shirts, hats, challenge coins, potholders, bottle openers and 'Thin Red Line' flags will be available for purchase at the Merchandise Tent inside the event.  Cash and credit cards accepted.  No checks.

Can I make a donation to the fire departments that Big Chili benefits?   
Yes, you bet!  Donations will be accepted at the Information Booth.  Cash and credit card donations accepted.

Where is Lost/Found located?   
It is located at the Festival Store/Merchandise Tent.  If you need to inquire about a lost item after the event, contact the Big Chili office at

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