Serving Marion County Since 1981
The Marion County Chili Cook-Off began in 1981 with an idea from one of the founding members of The Cornerstone School, Mike Hill. After attending a chili cook-off on Marco Island, Mr. Hill thought a chili cook-off would be a great way to raise money to help start The Cornerstone School, a new independent school, centered on teaching the whole child. He brought the idea to the Cornerstone Board members. It took some persuading, but eventually, they agreed to hold the first event.
The inaugural Chili Cook-Off was held at the former Ramada Inn located at US-27 and I-75. Sanctioned by the International Chili Society, the competition was governed by Society regulations, and future Cornerstone School families prepared all the chili. The event was a great success and helped The Cornerstone School open in the Fall of 1982. It was decided then that the Chili Cook-Off would become an annual fundraiser for the school.
The second Marion County Chili Cook-Off was held at The Cascades on East Silver Springs Boulevard, followed by subsequent events at Ocala Breeder Sales. In 2005 the event was moved to the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion, where it continues to be held each year on the first Saturday in November. The annual Chili Cook-Off Car Show made its debut in 2015 and continues to grow each year. In 2019 the expanded Children’s Area featured several inflatables, carnival games, face painting, and sand art. Throughout the years The Marion County Chili Cook-Off has been a staple for the community, offering businesses the opportunity to build relationships and locals the opportunity to make memories. With more than 5,000 locals visiting every year, there is something for everyone at The Marion County Chili Cook-Off.
All proceeds from the event benefit The Cornerstone School, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit school located in Ocala, FL.