The annual KISS Country 99.9 FM Chili Cook-off was yesterday at the 300-acre CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines. They opened the south parking entrance at 1:00am and the north parking entrance at 6:30am. The gates to get inside the concert area were set to open at 8:30am, so thousands of western clad country music lovers could race to secure the first-come-first-served lawn seating closest to the stage. Karen and I left the condo about 8:30am and joined the lengthy car queue at 9:00am. I let Karen out to find us a spot and idled along until 10:30 to the remote parking in the weeds at the far corner of the property. Tailgating started long before dawn, and many would never make it inside to see the show.
This was my first Country Concert Chili Cook-off so I was surprised that not one bite of chili would be available for music fans. The chili cooks prepared their spicy concoctions for the judges consumption only. We were allowed to walk past their elaborate booths, but, “No chili for you!”
I particularly liked the Dragon Chili groups mascot. Fire breathers love chili.
The Cadillac Three opened the show while I was hiking in from the remote parking lot and Karen was scrambling for our seating spot. I arrived with the introduction to the Swon Brothers.
My second big disappointment was discovering that the only beer for sale was headache inducing Budweiser. I am not a beer snob, but Bud gives me a headache during the first round. I was ready to face the show with no beer and no chili. Fortunately, a young man sitting with his girlfriend in front of me had smuggled in a 12-pack of Coors and was committed to share them with me. I found country music fans to be generous and compassionate. By the time Jerrod Niemann came out, we’d settled in nicely.
The day started out chilly by south Florida standards in the upper 50s. The jackets and sweaters were off and the sunny clear day warm as toast when The Band Perry threw fuel on the fire and brought the crowd to a boil.
Long legged girls in daisy dukes and halter tops stomped their boots and blew their straw hatted tops when heartthrob and star of the show Brad Paisley rocked the place.
By the time the sunset and evening cool set in mounted deputies were chasing away the crowd. It was a sloppy bunch, but they had a good time and behaved themselves.
The crowd jammed up tight at a narrow foot bridge on the way out. The chili cook’s tents and elaborate setups were still places to party when the concert goers were sent packing. Love was in the air. It was a long day and good show. Would we do it again? Maybe