The smell of funnel cakes, fried foods, and, of course, chili, filled the air at the 40th Annual Malibu Chili Cook-Off. Despite temperatures reaching nearly triple digits, over 26,000 attendees continued to enjoy the carnival games, rides, meet local vendors, and eat some nostalgic festival favorites over the Labor Day weekend.
Located at the corner of Stuart Ranch Road and Civic Center Way, parking was available at City Hall for $20. Admission tickets and carnival rides were available to purchase online.
Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Executive Director Kasey Earnest said the preparation for the chili cook-off went smoothly.
“This is the fourth year of doing this event, and I feel like we’ve got a good handle of food and vibe and community,” Earnest said. “We have a nice combination of community and outside vendors involved.”
Earnest said online tickets have been better in terms of saving time.
“We’re not changing cash on hand, and we try to get people in as quickly as possible so they can get on rides,” Earnest said.
Regarding safety, Earnest said they had multiple security in attendance, including IPS, Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s, and SWAT.
On Saturday night, footage of fair-goers fleeing the carnival surfaced the internet after hearing about a potential shooting threat. The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s said there was no shooting and no threat involved.
“There was a lot posted on social, but sheriff’s were on hand, and they were on site, there was no one hurt and were very clear that there was no incident that occured,” Earnest said.
Some of the organizations in attendance included Third Space. This is the first year the organization is at the chili cook-off event.
“Our Third Space booth is brand new and it’s all about community and kids,” Earnest said.
BGCM Director of Education Lauren Quient shared what the organization does for students and families.
“We showcase our student’s work in global citizenship, social entrepreneurship, and sustainable practices,” Quient said. “This is a great representation of cognitive, creative, innovative and exciting and sustainable things that can come out of this, as well as looking at human need and celebrating that and looking at empathy and what we can bring together.”
Dr. Alisha Jean-Denis, the consultant and strategic planning lead for Third Space, said the organization works with the school district, students, and families.
“It’s a great collaboration with the school district, and I think it just has so much potential to be a powerhouse in this community,” Jean-Denis said.
As for the actual cook-off portion of the event, the Chili Cook-Off Competition featured talented contestants vying for best in show in categories featuring meat, vegetarian, or vegan recipes.
For the vegan category, Beyond Meat took home first place. Spanky’s Catering took home second, and Stoner’s House Farm took home third.
For the meat category, Duke’s Malibu took home first, The Chili Preppers placed second place, and Green Truck took third.
Duke’s Malibu took home people’s choice of chili for 2022.
Green Truck won first place in last year’s traditional chili category, with a family operation called The Red Hot Chili Preppers taking first place in the vegan/vegetarian category.
The Malibu Chili Cook-Off continued its collaboration with fashion-wear brand Aviator Nation to deliver exclusive Chili Cook-Off merchandise to attendees.
Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Lana Del Rey, Tom Hanks, Johnny Knoxville, and more were seen at the cook-off this weekend.
Barefoot Dreams also featured their CozyChic oasis lounge for adults, offering delicious beer and local wine varieties.
Some of the food vendors and food trucks included authentic Hong Kong-style Bao Dim Sum, Juarez Tacos Food Truck, Roll’n Lobster Food Truck, Vivace Pizza Truck, and more.
The Malibu Village held its 3rd Annual Johnny Strange Legacy Skate Competition with over $2,500 in cash and prizes.
Johnny Strange was well-known as an adventure seeker deep in his heart and was inspired by the world around him — nature, culture, sport, and used his opportunities to do good. He also became the youngest person at the time to climb the highest mountains on each continent, including Mt. Everest.
“My favorite highlight of the weekend was the Johnny Strange Legacy Skate Competition which was really incredible, as well as the chili competition,” Earnest said.
All proceeds raised from the Chili Cook-Off will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu and its many youth and community services, including its Wellness Center which offers free mental health counseling and social support services for students, their parents, and the community at large.
With large crowds all four days, the event sold out on Sunday, Sept. 4.
Overall, Earnest said the carnival is always well received in terms of attendance.
“All in all, it was a huge success; obviously, we’re still wrapping the event in terms of money raised, but in terms of vendors’ experience, we believe our vendors had a really positive experience,” Earnest said.