South and North Park Ready for Epic Chili Smackdown | Don't Miss the 5th Annual SoNo Fest & Chili CookOff on Sunday, December 7

November 22, 2014

Fifteen thousand people are expected to converge on Sunday, December 7, from 11am-5pm, for a neighborhood celebration as the 5th annual SoNo Fest and Chili Cook­off takes over 32nd & Thorn streets, giving San Diegans a chance to buy local, eat local and drink local, all for a good cause. This free holiday event, presented by San Diego Ceramic Connection and the McKinley Elementary School Foundation, promises award­-winning chili as tons of local restaurants face off for chili bragging rights to prove for another year who reigns supreme in the world of chili! There will also be local vendors and food purveyors, an assortment of food trucks, live music from two stages, a craft beer and wine pavilion, a kid zone area  with carnival games and bounce houses and much more.

“This event has evolved from a small group of friends and patrons gathering to eat chili and have a good time into a major street festival and fundraising event to benefit McKinley,” said Kouta Shimazaki, owner of San Diego Ceramic Connection, “The people in our community have really pulled together to make this a success and that’s something I’m proud to be part of.”

The bowls are always awesome!
This popular neighborhood fest keeps growing - this year promising 40 competing restaurants, a larger beer garden and overall event space, a re­imagined kids zone and a carefully curated selection of 30 local artisan craft vendors. Participating chili competitors include Bazinga, BFD, The Blind Burro, Blind Lady Ale House, Brabant, Bub’s At The Ballpark, Buona Forchetta, Cardamom, Carnita’s Snack Shack, City Tacos, Coin­Op Game Room, Fathom Bistro, Fish Public, Hamiltons, Kensington Cafe, Miho Gastrotruck, Monkey Paw, Mosaic, Panama 66, Rancho’s Cocina, Rebecca’s, Ritual Kitchen, The Safehouse, Sipz, Small Bar, Soda & Swine, Starlite, Station Tavern, The Haven, The Smoking Goat, Tiger! Tiger!, Toronado, True North, UpTown Tavern, Underbelly, Urban Solace, Urbn Pizza, Wang’s, Waypoint Public, West Coast Tavern and more

Todd Gloria enjoying some chili
A panel of San Diego celebrities, including Council Member Todd Gloria, Congresswoman Susan Davis, Chef Deborah Scott and Craft Beer Expert Omar Passons and more, will be on hand to crown the winners of the chili competition. The event is free to attend and everyone is invited to sample the entries and vote for their favorites – $20 buys five restaurant chili tastings and a handcrafted ceramic bowl.

Bar Pink and The Casbah will sponsor two live music stages to keep the crowd dancing throughout the day. Bands will include Shawn Rohlf & The Buskers, The Creepy Creeps, G Burns Jug Band, The Bed Breakers, Unsteady, The Roslyns, The Nards, The Loons and Trailduster. San Diego is home to the best craft beer in the country, and South Park/North Park is known as the heart of San Diego’s craft beer scene. As such, SoNo Fest's Beer and Wine Garden will feature over 16 local craft brewers on hand serving their finest ales and lagers and wine will be provided by nearby Fallbrook Winery.

“We are continually amazed and gratified by the generous support of this community,” said McKinley principal Julie Ashton­Gray, “This event helps us give McKinley students access to the arts, music and Spanish, which are important components for us to offer in order to sustain our International Baccalaureate status.”

For a complete list of restaurants, celebrity judges, bands, vendors, food trucks and more event information, visit