SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off Kicks Off 9th Holiday Season Raising Funds For Local School On Sunday, December 2 | Enter To Win Chili-Tasting Tickets

November 10, 2018

One of San Diego's most highly anticipated street fairs returns just in time for the holiday season. For the 9th year, the free-to-attend SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off will take over the streets to raise money for McKinley Elementary School. This festive annual event includes local vendors, a cocktail bar, two music stages, a food truck court, a kids play zone, a beer garden and more than 40 local chefs competing for best chili in town! We are raffling off 2 chili tasting passports, so read on for details and be sure to enter!

What began as a humble community potluck hosted by the San Diego Ceramic Connection has grown into one of the most beloved holiday events of the year. SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off returns to the intersection of Thorn and 32nd Street on Sunday, December 2, from 11am to 5pm, to raise funds for McKinley Elementary School’s Spanish, art, and music program. This all-volunteer event has become one of the neighborhood’s largest festivals, with nearly 20,000 hungry patrons hitting the block to taste, sip, shop, and play their way through the best that North Park and South Park have to offer. Since its inception in 2010, SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off has raised over $395,000 for the elementary school’s International Baccalaureate program.

Drawing top restaurants and breweries from the bordering communities, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off features over 40 local chefs, 22 breweries, and back by popular demand this year, a cocktail bar helmed by Cutwater Spirits. A holiday craft market, two music stages, a food truck court, and kids play zone round-out the all-ages affair. New this year is an expanded beer garden and fresh new games in the Kids Zone!

Battling it out for bragging rights to the best pot of chili in the city, the festival features forty chefs from prominent restaurants in the neighborhood, each offering up a special chili inspired by their locale. Not limited to the traditional bean-and-beef chili recipes, participating chefs pull out all the stops with their creative concoctions - past winners have included a Japanese Curry Chili from Underbelly, a Smoked Lamb Leg & Tri-Tip Chipotle Chili from Toronado, and a Shrimp and Seafood “Sausage-Style” Smoked Chili with Smoked Jalapeño Cream from South Park Brewing Company. Vegetarian and vegan creations ensure there’s something for everyone, with standout tastings from such notable establishments as Kindred, Anthem Vegan, the new Fernside in South Park and more.

Restaurants participating in this year's chili competition include Anthem North Park, Burger Lounge, Blind Lady Alehouse, Tiger! Tiger! , Panama 66, Del Sur, The Haven, Fernside Kitchen, Kensington Grill, Bivouac Ciderworks, Lucha Libre Taco Shop, Tribute Pizza, Beerfish, Waypoint Public, The Deck @ Moonshine Flats, Starlite, Urban Solace, Kindred, Subterranean , Wonderland Ocean Pub, The Smoking Gun and nearly twenty others. Ceramic bowl or festival mugs will cost $20 and include 5 chili tastings.

Drawing on North Park’s reputation as a craft beer mecca, SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off’s beer garden features 22 breweries from the surrounding areas. Hop heads will be able to purchase pours ($7 each) from Great American Beer Festival gold medal winners Societe and Eppig, Hess Brewing, Pizza Port, and more. Non-beer options include Bivouac Ciderworks and Boochcraft, and Cutwater Spirits will be cracking open their famous canned cocktails from their designated pop-up. Buona Forchetta’s vintage pizza truck will be slinging out their award-winning Neapolitan slices from inside the garden for those looking for a bite in- between sips.
Those looking to partake in some last-minute holiday shopping can browse the Holiday Marketplace, where nearly 30 local makers and artisans will be offering their unique, homemade wares. A curated mix of locally made goods, including kid’s clothes, stationary, jewelry, and home décor, the holiday market features brands such as Heart Soul Printing, Butcher Press, INKredible Design, and Stitches by Stacey. An all-ages event, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off also features an interactive Kids Fest on 32nd Street featuring multiple bounce houses, carnival games, face painters, and a kid’s fest stage. For music lovers, two stages belt out tunes from local bands all day long, including hometown favorites and local legends.

The SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off is free to enter and 100% of proceeds from the festival go directly to McKinley Elementary School. SoNo Fest is directly responsible for the school’s ceramic, music, dance, garden, art, and Spanish programs, offering all students the opportunity to expand their educational horizons and ready themselves for middle school and beyond.

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