Hot Springs is a community like no other; we have all the amenities of a bigger city but we retain that small town charm of knowing your neighbors and being invested in our (sometimes quirky) traditions. So when the summer heat has faded into the cool morning fog of fall and winter, we like nothing more than to celebrate the season by getting together to eat some homemade goodness, sing a few songs, and light up our magical town with holiday cheer. 

The Tom Daniel Holiday Chili Cook-off is a treasured local tradition that no one should miss. You will be able to sample all the homemade, traditional and non-traditional style chilis you can eat, from over 30 different local businesses, for just $5 a ticket and there will be beer and drinks for purchase by local vendors. You’ll be eating and drinking for a great cause too since proceeds from ticket and drink sales support the Downtown Merchants Association and maintenance of the Downtown lights. The event was named in honor of the late Tom Daniel, a local business owner, and community advocate.

Make sure you stick around after you chow down because, at dusk, you’ll be able to see all of Downtown light up with holiday wonder as the lights are switched on for the first time this season. 

Former KATV news anchor Gina Kurre will serve as the emcee at this year’s event and this year a few other special additions have been made to the event. The Cook-off will honor Arkansas icon and Meteorology legend, Ned Perme, who has emceed the event for the last 15 years, as the first Honorary Chair of the 16TH annual Tom Daniel Holiday Chili Cook-off. Rex Nelson, the Democrat-Gazette Southern culture columnist and vocal advocate of Hot Springs’ recent revitalization, will be a guest judge.

The Cook-off and lighting ceremony will happen on Monday, November 19th at the Exchange Street Plaza beginning at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 and allows attendees to sample the entries and vote for their favorite bowl of chili for the  “People’s Choice” award. First and second place winners will be determined by the panel of judges. 

Don’t miss this wonderful Hot Springs tradition! Click HERE to purchase your tickets.

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