Last Sunday was the city of Tustin's 25th annual Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off. Believe you me, people in Tustin know how to throw a good bash.
(Corner of Main and El Camino Real.)
Here's the recipe. Start off by shutting down vehicle traffic to all of Old Town Tustin...
Line the streets with stalls run by artists, food vendors, and independent merchants selling knickknacks...
Add a stage constantly presenting live entertainment and kooky contests, like Mr. Hottest Legs in Tustin...
Fill in any gaps with a bunch of serious chili contenders locked in heated battle for top awards bestowed by the International Chili Society...
...and invite damn near the entire county. We're talking serious shindig here.
The big draw, of course, is the Chili Cook-off. With close to a dozen gustatorial gladiators vying to be crowned Tustin's king of chili, it takes a sure hand, a steady gut, and a strategic supply of antacids to insure you don't end up running for a throne of your own. There are in-your-face chilies that storm their way across your tongue and down your throat, burning and pillaging along the way. There are deceptively mild chilies that go down smooth only to deliver a sucker punch to your gut. There are bean-based chilies, meat dominated chilies, cheesy chilies, and tomato-y chilies. There's a chili for every man, woman, and child. If you're anything like me, you gotta try them all.
To keep the innocent from suffering, soothe your poor tongue and stomach with some ice cold beer, which you can get pulled straight from the tap at any of the conveniently located beer booths. This cup may say "Coors Light", but it holds a smooth, crisp Hefeweizen from the Tustin Brewing Company. Nothing kills the heat of a strong chili like good ale.
If you want something meatier to sink your teeth into, tasty food abounds, served up at stands run by local restaurants or organizations. In addition to several stands offering skillfully roasted meat, trip-tip sandwiches, and hot dogs, you can find cotton candy, Italian ices, tacquitos, churros, chocolate-covered strawberries, and a variety of custard-filled pastries. It's enough to bring a strong man to his knees.
Tustin Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off - Take my advice. Hit the Costco the day before for some Pepto or Tums, skip dinner the night before, and wear your big eatin' pants. It pays to be prepared.
Tustin Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off
(First Sunday of every June)
Corner of El Camino & Main
Tustin, CA 92780