Drippings From The Pit

Note: Important news at the end

In about 1986 or1987 (if I’d known there would be an exam, I would have paid more attention) I heard about a chili cookoff.  I thought I cooked a pretty good chili so I entered.  Went to the cooks’ meeting and entered a whole new world, Texas chili.  We got a trophy, but for show, not chili.  Then I heard about the Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ at the Westminster Quay so I entered again.

Dave and Pat Veljacic put it on and the charity was the Firefighters’ Burn Fund.  Dave and Pat became close friends.

In 1988 Steve Burnfield showed up, talked to cooks and sampled chili and every year thereafter until 1993 when he arrived with a stove and a pot.  And somewhere around there Dave McKay appeared to make a documentary and returned the next year as a cook.

There followed many memorable years with memorable people.  Judi Anderson, Lynne Brokaw, Bob and Sandra Lyon, Ken and Ruth Peach, and Jim and Lois Erickson to mention a few.

By 2000 Dave Veljacic had breast cancer bad enough that he couldn’t continue and Betty and I took over the event.  In 2001 we moved to the Days Hotel for two unforgettable years. Mad Cow (Wayne Fettback) began his cooking career.  Then about 5 years at Eat! Vancouver before a couple of years at River Rock Casino.

2009 brought us to Cascades Casino where the event was in the capable hands of Wayne Fettback and Dave McKay with assistance from me.  Michael Favelle was integral to the event and Rob Rabby joined the promoters with, once again, the Firefighters’ Burn Fund.

Through all this time I have watched many successful cooks get their start.  I have met some of the most wonderful people, and a few who weren’t.  I have made many great friends and I have a multitude of memories.

But… all good things must end and that time has come for the Canadian Festival of Chili and BBQ.  A shortfall in expected funding and a loss of most of our volunteers combined with a feeling among the promoters that it was time brought the decision to cancel the event this year and bring down the curtain.

Thank you to Wayne, Rob, Dave, Michael, Steve and Betty for being there with me through this amazing experience.

And a thank you to all you wonderful cooks, judges and sponsors.  A special mention to Johnston’s Meats for their support and to the PNWBA for their assistance.  We’ve had a great ride.  And, bbq cooks, you’re still a bunch of divas.

Yours Sincerely FRED