Chili Cook-Off has a new home, a bit of controversy


The community event will feature 14 chili contest competitors.

By Alexandra Markus / Special to The Malibu Times

The 29th edition of the annual Labor Day weekend tradition, the Chili Cook-Off, will feature live music, carnival rides, games, a variety of food choices and, of course, a chili contest. But not everybody will be enjoying the festivities that will take place from Friday through Monday. Some Malibu Knolls residents are concerned about the new location of the event, at the Ioki site right under their elevated properties. They also question the legitimacy of the Malibu Kiwanis Club, the event’s operator, as a community service organization.

Steve Uhring, former head of the Malibu Township Council and a Malibu Knolls resident, spoke against the event at a recent Planning Commission hearing on Kiwanis’ permit. He created a Web site about his concerns regarding the profits reaped from the event.

“For years, Malibu Residents believed that all the profits from the Chili Cook-off were used to support schools and youth organizations within Malibu,” Uhring wrote. “Today, it appears that this is no longer true.”

Uhring’s Web site provides tax returns and other financial information that he says shows questionable numbers for a supposed community organization. He raised the same concerns at the Planning Commission hearing, and received support from several neighbors. But some Malibu Knolls residents did not share the sentiment of opposition.”

“I don’t think you can measure the spirit of the community by the balance sheet,” said Malibu Knolls resident Bernie James, who admitted Kiwanis showed bad bookkeeping. “My kids are adults, but they still have left behind two adults who are children at heart. We look forward to enjoying the Chili Cook-Off.”

Former Mayor Ken Kearsley is another supporter of the event. He said the skepticism is due to a case of NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitudes.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” he said in a recent interview. “We have a group of citizens who are volunteering their time and what they are saying is that there is some controversy where the money is going.”

Regarding some residents’ complaints about noise during the four-day event, Kearsley said, “Yes, it will be noisy. People will be having a good time. Kids will be screaming, but to me that’s music.”

The Chili Cook-Off will feature more than 20 rides, including a Ferris wheel and a solid line up of live music. Go to for a complete schedule.

Beverly Craveiro, Kiwanis’ director of entertainment, said she selected an eclectic assortment of talent. One appearance she noted will be Debra Caraway, the Ralphs cashier who has been entertaining Malibu residents with her singing voice for years. She will perform the national anthem on Saturday.

The Pepperdine Music Department is also scheduled to perform as well as a variety of classic folk, country, rock and blues talent. Legendary entertainer and Malibu resident Dick Van Dyke will make an appearance on Sunday to announce the winner of the raffle for a 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK.

The chili contest will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Fourteen contestants composed of a variety of people from Malibu and elsewhere will battle. Those who will compete include four members of the Malibu Rugby Club and a chef who will travel from New Jersey with his “Jersey Killer Chili.”

Other contestants include those providing the Thomas Anthony’s Hot Sauce Chili and the Bob Levy’s Kosher Chili, as well as the Malibu Lifeguards, MBSC: Malibu’s local business and shipping center, and the restaurant Chili Addiction.

There will also be a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and various other items. Money raised through the event will go to Kiwanis, which it says will be used to benefit various community programs.

Ten percent of the money earned through the purchase of four-day passes and direct donations to Kiwanis will go toward the purchase of a tree and bench at Legacy Park in the memory Emily Shane, the 13-year-old resident who was killed when she was struck by a vehicle on Pacific Coast Highway in April.

“The more people get together the better,” Kearsley said. “I hope the Cook-Off will be a success for years to come.”

The Chili Cook-Off will take place on Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The carnival will take place all four days. The chili contest and other festivities will take place on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 per day for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 11. Children under 5 can attend for free. Four-day passes can be purchased for $100, which are good for two people and a ticket for the vehicle raffle. Parking will be available at Civic Center and Webb Way. More information, can be obtained by calling 818.879.8286