by Savannah Evanoff
The Emerald Coast Parrot Head Club will start the year with its favorite philosophy: partying with a purpose.
The civic nonprofit will host its 12th annual Emerald Coast Parrot Head Chili Cook-Off to benefit The Arc of the Emerald Coast. Restaurants and individuals will compete for best chili as attendees enjoy unlimited samples.
Mike Whitley, president of the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Club, said the chili cook-off was the first Parrot Head Club event he attended after moving here four years ago.
“I immediately joined the club that day after coming out here,” Whitley said. “The Parrot Heads make this event. We make it fun, because we bring that fun, tropical Parrot Head-atmosphere to our chili cook-off. It may be Feb. 4, but it’s gonna be a party out here on that Saturday.”
The Emerald Coast Parrot Head Chili Cook-Off is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at HarborWalk Village, 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. To purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com.
Here are five things you can do at the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Chili Cook-Off.
1. You can party for a purpose.
For the third year in a row, the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Chili Cook-Off will raise money for The Arc of the Emerald Coast. Donna Tashik, the community development director, said The Arc of the Emerald Coast provides services to more than 450 men, women and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Santa Rosa, Walton and Okaloosa counties. Among the disabilities are Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism, Tashik said.
Marissa Marinan, the media director for HarborWalk Village, said the 2016 event raised $3,000 for the organization. This year, she hopes to exceed that amount.
“With it being in February, it’s got the good local community feel to it,” Marinan said. “It’s raising money for a very local charity that’s near and dear to a lot of people.”
For more information on The Arc of the Emerald Coast, visit arcemeraldcoast.org.
2. You can taste unlimited chili samples.
More than 15 restaurants and individuals will compete for best chili, and there will be a variety, Marinan said. Chili recipes this year include Bison and Chorizo Chili, Tequila Bison Chili and Seven-Bean Seven-Pepper Hot Chili, she said.
“We have some that are top-secret, so they won’t share,” Marinan said.
The chili cook-off will award three categories: people’s choice, restaurant and amateur. The amateur category is new this year, Marinan said.
“The chili masters who aren’t incorporated with a restaurant can come out, compete and get some recognition,” Marinan said.
Many participating restaurants don’t serve chili at the restaurant, Marinan said.
3. You can drink.
You won’t be without alcohol at the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Chili Cook-Off.
Props Brewery will offer craft beer, and Timber Creek Distillery will offer whiskey and bourbon samples. HarborWalk Village businesses will also be open during the event, Marinan said.
“You can get some cold craft beer, some bourbon, some chili and some sunshine on the harbor,” Marinan said.
4. You can dance if you want to.
Kickstand Jenny, a local cover and original band, will perform on the main stage at HarborWalk Village.
The rock, Top 40 and dance band specializes in 1980s rock and dance tunes.
“They are very eclectic,” Marinan said. “They definitely are high energy, party, get you in the mood, dance, have a good time.”
5. You can party with the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Club.
The annual event gets the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Club name out there, Whitley said.
The group’s mission is to promote social and civic activities with the spirit of Jimmy Buffett’s music. Buffett is known for Caribbean-style music and an island lifestyle.
“We do honor the lifestyle of Jimmy Buffett, but we also give back to the community,” Whitley said.
The group gives $15,000 back to local charities a year, Whitley said. For more information on the Emerald Coast Parrot Head Club, visit ecparrotheads.org/.
The chili cook off is a party, Whitley said.
“It’s our first event of the year, so it kind of gets us going for the year,” Whitley said. “We’re always happy to raise money for charity.”