Chili Cook-Off offers weekend of fun, prizes


Gallons of chili and a BMW giveaway are featured during the annual Malibu event.

By Judy-Anne Goldman /Special to The Malibu Times

For the 22nd year, Malibu will be home to the annual Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off, taking place over Labor Day weekend at Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way.

The chili competition will be accompanied by a full weekend of fun, including a three-day carnival, music performances, games, vendor and non profit booths, Saturday’s “Kids Day” festivities, and raffles for an Ocean Kayak, two exotic trips-and a 2003 BMW Z4.

“All money raised will go towards Malibu community-sponsored youth purposes,” said Lisajo McGee, Lt. Gov. Division 1 of the Malibu Kiwanis. With 40 booth entries, McGee stated, “This will be the best chili turnout ever.”

The Malibu Kiwanis was chartered in 1982 and is dedicated to supporting Malibu community-sponsored youth programs have helped provide local schools with ball fields and contributed to many other organizations and endeavors, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club, Cameron Park at Point Dume, Little League, schools and church groups.

Founding member Bob Bowman created the local organization, which instantly stood out in the national Kiwanis map.

“Bob was a very dynamic force, and our group was special because we were all very young. Most Kiwanis groups were older people. Ours had an average age of 36,” said Nidra Winger, Bowman’s widow and current Kiwanis board member.

The Kiwanis group and its Chili Cook-Off weekend have changed dramatically over the years. “Since the Kiwanis organization began in 1915, it didn’t allow women,” she said. That status changed nationally in 1987, and Winger became one of the first five female Kiwanis in Malibu, leading her to be named the first woman president of the local organization in 1993.

The Chili Cook-Off also has gone through changes since 1982. “It used to be rougher,” Winger said. “We added the carnival in the late 1980s. Now it’s more family oriented.”

Although the event location has remained the same, “The property used to be owned by the Crummer family,” Winger said. “Then the Malibu Bay Company bought it and they’ve been very generous to let us keep having the Cook-Off and Carnival there every year.”

The 2003 event will feature Kids Day on Saturday, Aug. 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Festivities will include a “Climb It” rock wall, pony rides, a Moon Bounce, obstacle course and Olympic Games with a DJ. The Rad Hatter booth will be back by popular demand, and Deputies Bob and Bates from the STAR Program will give presentations.

Chili can be observed “cooking-off” on both Saturday and Sunday. “We get some pretty serious chili chefs,” Winger said. “Our event is a qualifier for the world championship.”

One of the most highly anticipated parts of the weekend will be the annual car raffle. This year the Kiwanis will raffle off a new, $50,000 2003 BMW Z4, an Ocean Kayak and two international trips.

Celebrity guest hosts will be Max Gail and Kathleen Quinlan. The traditional kick-off barbeque and VIP tent will be sponsored for the first time by Malibu Inn. The barbeque will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday and is open to the public.

Local attractions will include performances by the Malibu High Drum Line, a local youth talent show, a Malibu Pony League pizza booth, a Point Dume School lemonade stand and a Webster School Popsicle and Haagen Daz booth.

Non profit organizations with booths will include the Lupus Foundation, California Wildlife Center, Boys and Girls Club, Young Life Malibu, Malibu Vineyard, Department of Parks and Recreation, and chili booths from Our Lady of Malibu and Malibu Presbyterian churches.

McGee said that ticket sales have been strong and that the Kiwanis expect a last minute surge as Labor Day weekend approaches.

“I get such a joy out of seeing the kids have so much fun. I love to see their faces,” McGee said. “Kids are our future and we have such great kids in Malibu. The students are phenomenal.”

Gates open Friday for the carnival at 6 p.m.; festivities on Saturday and Sunday begin at 11 a.m.; Monday features the carnival only beginning at 11 a.m. Admission is $10; free for kids under 12.

For more information about

the Cook-Off and carnival, contact the Kiwanis at 310-589-9266 or visit their Web site at