San Diego's Popular SoNo Fest Holiday Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Returns On December 5 | Enter For A Chance To Win 2 Tasting Tickets

November 20, 2021

San Diego's popular SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off returns this December 5 to raise funds for McKinley Elementary School, and we are raffling off 2 chili tasting tickets.

What began as a humble community potluck hosted by the San Diego Ceramic Connection has grown into one of the most anticipated holiday events of the year – the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off. The popular street fair returns on Sunday, December 5th to the intersection of Thorn and 32nd Street 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 San Diego has to offer. Since its inception in 2010, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off has raised over $565,000 for the school.

After converting a large-scale in-person event to an online ceramic bowl and shirt sale in 2020 due to the pandemic, SoNo Fest is excited to be back on the street this year. Last year’s profits of just over $15,000 were split among the long-time participating restaurants who were hard hit by lockdowns in 2020. Checks were delivered to restaurant owners and chefs, in appreciation for being the reason SoNo Fest can remain a unique and beloved annual event. It illustrated SoNo Fest’s gratitude to these generous chili makers.

Battling it out for bragging rights to the best pot of chili in the city, this year's festival features dozens of 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 entries have included a Japanese Curry Chili from Underbelly and a Duck and Pork Verde Chili from Blind Lady Alehouse. Vegetarian and vegan creations ensure there’s something for everyone, with standout tastings from such notable establishments as Kindred, Kensington Cafe, Fernside in South Park and more. Commemorative festival mugs and unique hand-made-by-the-community ceramic bowls from San Diego Ceramic Connection will be sold for $25, and will include five chili tastings. Additional 5 tastings can be purchased for $20.

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 North Park Brewing and Societe, Hess Brewing, Pizza Port, and more. Non-beer options include hard cider, Boochcraft Hard Kombucha and Cutwater Canned Cocktails. Italian pizzeria Buona Forchetta’s vintage pizza truck will also be slinging out their award-winning Neapolitan slices straight from their portable imported pizza-oven from inside the garden for those looking for a lite bite in-between sips.

Patrons looking to partake in some holiday shopping can browse the Holiday Marketplace, where nearly 30 local makers and artisans will be offering their unique, homemade wares to eager shoppers. 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, Wild Cloud, and The Library Shop.

Truly an all-ages event, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off features two live music stages, offering all-day entertainment long past the initial chili samplings, by hometown favorites and local legends. The Main Bancroft Stage is once again sponsored by long-time SoNo Fest supporter The Casbah. Over on 32nd Street, kids can find activities provided by local kid-centric businesses from arts to academics, and so much more.

Looking to build a sustainable future and offer expanded opportunities for the neighborhood children, 100% of proceeds from the festival go directly to McKinley Elementary School, a public school for kids in North and South Park. Funding the International Baccalaureate program, the SoNo Fest is directly responsible for the school’s ceramic, music, dance, garden, art, and Spanish programs, offering hundreds of students the opportunity to expand their educational horizons and ready themselves for middle school and beyond. Without the funds raised, these programs would not be available for the students as these creative learning opportunities are no longer funded by the San Diego School District. Funds are also used to celebrate hardworking teachers with appreciation luncheons, classroom item purchases, and more. This is more important than ever this year, as teachers navigate Covid protocols in public schools and keep our kids learning in a safe environment.

The 12th annual SoNo Fest & Chili Cook Off takes place on Sunday, December 5, from 11am-5pm at the intersection of 32nd & Thorn Street in San Diego's North Park. For more information and to scoop tasting tickets, visit