The Round Top community showed up in force to support the Round Top Family Library at its 19th annual Chili Cookoff fundraiser last weekend. About 500 attendees braved below freezing temperatures for a chance to bid on incredible list of auction items and sample steaming bowls of the official winter dish of Texas.

The popular local event, which usually takes place outdoors, was moved inside the historic Round Top Rifle Hall as a bitter cold front bore down on the area. The cooking teams kept everyone’s spirits up and bellies warm with exuberantly decorated stations and costumes. Some even offered free slices of king cake and shots of Fireball and tequila. 

Beloved local cover band Black Cat Choir also played a string of hits while everyone sampled chili, browsed live auction items, explored the book sale and indulged in offerings from the sweets tables. Kids were treated to a host of free activities, including face painting, crafts and treats from Shea Edge of Oh Sweet! who spun multiple flavors of cotton candy like blueberry and tropical punch. 

Auctioneer Heather Kaspar of Buck-Up Auctions lead the fierce bidding action during the live auction. The hottest items up for bids were stays in Sullivan, Maine and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A Black Cat Choir concert sold three times over, and a premium wine and spirits basket prepared by Round Top Liquor Shop received a top bid of $5,000. Caught up in the heat of the moment, Daniel and Erin Ciment placed a set of four club level Houston Astros tickets up for bid on the spot. 

Other auction items included a coveted handmade blanket coat and dhurrie tote from Sapana, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo tickets, a gumbo dinner at Southern Beasts prepared by owners Mary Lou and Daniel Marks, a Yeti cooler filled with a year’s supply of Blue Bell ice cream, a Colonial-era table donated by Eduardo Lopez Furniture Design and a wine tasting class at Boon & Co. with aficionado Nate Pineda. 

Awards for the cookoff took place following the auction amid rowdy applause. The Traditional Division first place winner went to the team dubbed Best Overall Chili with second place taken by Big Daddy Blue (Bluebonnet Abstract and Title). All Fired Up! The Warrenton Crew took third place in the Traditional Division. 

The team representing The Country Properties Group, Martha Turner|Sotheby’s International Realty nabbed first place in the Open Division and the Red Hot Hodde Peppers (from Hodde Real Estate Co.) took second in the same. Team MasonJay – SWBC was awarded third place in the Open Division and received the highly coveted People’s Choice Best Chili award for their spicy Cuban style chili. The Best Showmanship award went to Round Top Road Chili Company. In the High School Challenge, the junior class of Round Top-Carmine High School bested the senior class of 2024.

It was truly a day to remember and quite possibly the most successful cookoff the library has hosted to date. Weather no obstacle. Mark your planner for The Round Top Family Library’s next chili cookoff, set to be held in January 2025.