Spice, sweets and support in Hill City

Leslie Silverman
Whether you love the spice of chili or the sweetness of a good piece of chocolate, Hill City is where you want to be on Feb 10. Both the Polar Bear Chili Cook Off and the Tour de Chocolate take place  in  the Heart of the Hills, giving tourists and locals a chance to shop locally for Valentine’s Day and support the Hill City community.
The 12th annual Polar Bear Chili Cook Off starts at 11 a.m. in downtown Hill City.
Cash prizes will be awarded in several categories including the best red chili, white chili, green chili, a people’s choice category and the best booth decor.
Entry fee for competitors is $30 for the first entry and $20 for the second. Tasters pay a $5 per person fee or $20 for the whole family.
The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Tin City Lodge No. 112, the local Masons who support the Hill City community in various ways, including bringing the Delta Dental van to town as well as through the  books for bikes program. Tin City Lodge No. 112 also makes donations to various nonprofit groups from Hill City in addition to a veterans program, child ID service and offering scholarships to students. The lodge is a 501(c)3, meaning all donations to the lodge are tax deductible.
There are over 24 booths already registered for the chili cook off. Jack Welker from Tin City Lodge No. 112 says the event takes place no matter what the weather is. 
“It’s polar bear for a reason,” he said. “Cold or not we do it anyway.” 
Lodge members set up two 55-gallon drums with burners to keep everyone warm. This year the lodge utilized the talents of Crissy Davies, a digital content creator and friend of the Masons, to help promote the event online.
People can register and learn more at tincityma
After, during or before chili people can visit the 28 merchants who are participating in this year’s Tour de Chocolate. Milk sea salt caramels, homemade chocolate dipped biscotti, muddy bacon treats dusted with sea salt and cayenne, chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate bonbons, chocolate hearts, chocolate bread with chocolate butter,  chocolate truffles, chocolate-dipped pretzel rods  and brownies are just some of the sweets patrons can try. In addition some merchants are offering liquid chocolate delights including  chocolate cordials, chocolate wines, homemade cocoa and of course, hot chocolate. 
“Why wouldn’t you come?” asked April Purdie of Turtletown. “Come be out in the best city on the western side of South Dakota and enjoy free chocolate.”
Purdie says it’s a way for merchants to give back to everyone who supports them year round and to “highlight all the fun things to do in Hill City in the middle of winter.”
In addition to the chocolates, most merchants are offering discounts on merchandise or special meals.
While in town, pay a visit to Gypsy Rose Studio,  which is holding a special fundraiser, “For the love of Music (& Bob),”  to benefit Bob Fahey, a local musician, father, grandfather and  veteran. Proceeds will help offset the  post-surgery costs for Fahey as the procedure will leave him without an income source temporarily.
The studio will hold a  silent auction featuring items donated by local artists and businesses in addition to a flash tattoo sale.

User login