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Missing in action for three years, Loving Mugs Chili Cook-off makes 2023 comeback

Loving Mugs, we missed you.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

On Feb. 20, 2020 (that's 02/20/2020 for you numerologists), the Penticton Art Gallery presented the third annual iteration of something they'd dubbed the Loving Mugs Chili Cook-off.

Essentially a battle royale between the city's top chili artisans that unfolded within the walls of the Art Gallery and benefited lucky attendees, each of whom sampled at will, the Loving Mugs project was a runaway success.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> 2019 chili cooks prep for battle

And the third annual event was perhaps the best yet. The chili purveyors were more creative than ever and seemingly more determined than ever too. And the place was just packed.

A couple weeks later and much of the world stopped in its tracks. COVID-19 had crashed ashore and social gatherings of any sort were strictly forbidden. Including, of course, chili cook-offs.

In 2021 and 2022, Loving Mugs turned into a take-home affair. A decent enough idea, but a pale imitation of the real deal.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

But on Feb. 23th, 2023, the wait is over. Loving Mugs is back -- in person and in the Gallery, just like back in the day.

The event will kick-off, as usual, with the celebratory Choosing of the Mugs. There'll be a table up front, just after you walk in, loaded with artsy "loving mugs." Guests will stroll in the door and attempt to get their hands on the slickest mugs before their peers do.

Choose carefully. Everyone gets to keep what they claim.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

Then it’s merely a few steps into the main gallery, where the concocters of chili await.

At press time, well-known local entities like Highway 97 Brewery, The Pasta Factory and Gratify have all been confirmed. As has Honey Toast, with perennial Loving Mugs entrant and top finisher Fergy Ferguson at the helm.

Also waiting in the wings is Kristine Lee, Art Gallery board member and another Loving Mugs veteran from her time running Monday Night Dinners.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

More combatants, apparently, will be announced shortly.

Along with a wide variety of imaginative chili, attendees will be served bread, desert, drinks and a bunch of cool live music courtesy of Daryl O'Neill.

And they'll get the chance to vote for their fave recipes. Custom trophies will be presented to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, with extra recognition for "beaniest," "spiciest" and "most creative."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through the Penticton Art Gallery website. Members' price is $40, non-members pay $45.

For more info and to buy tix online, head here.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Scene from 2019 Loving Mugs

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