The Henniker Rotary Chili Fest takes place in August each year

Sponsored by

What would Chili Fest be without a Hot Pepper eating contest? We are pleased to announce a special new event at this year's "Fire on the Mountain" Chili Fest, the First Annual Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest sponsored by Merrimack County Savings Bank.

Can you take the heat? If so, sign up for a chance to win fabulous prizes all for stomaching a few of the world's hottest chili peppers! Cost to enter the Hot Pepper Eating Contest is $5.00.

Each contestant will receive two plates of chili peppers: jalapeno (2,500- 8,000 Scoville units) and habanero (100,000- 325,000 Scoville units). The hotness of chilis is based on this Scoville measurement which rates the level of capsaicin in each variety of pepper.

The contest is timed to see who can eat the most peppers in five (5) minutes time. All contestants will receive a $10 gift certificate to TBones/Cactus Jacks and the winner will receive a prize ribbon, a $50.00 cash prize, plus bragging rights. In the event of a tie, there will be a 1 minute tie breaker with a different pepper.


  • Entry fee is $5. Contestants must be 18 years of age or older and sign a waiver attesting that they are in good health
  • Each contestant will be given a bowl of jalapeno and a second bowl of habanero peppers
  • Contestants will have 5 minutes to eat as many peppers as they can. Jalapenos are 1 point each, Habaneros are 2 points each.
  • Contestants will eat the entire pepper: skin, seeds, membrane, leaving only the stem.
  • Each contestant will have a glass of water and a glass of milk. If a contestant takes a sip of milk before the end of the five minutes, s/he is eliminated.
  • Points will be added up at the end of the five minutes and the contestant with the most points will win. If there is a tie, contestants will have to eat one additional pepper (different variety) in one minute. The contestant who eats the most of this pepper will be declared the winner.
  • Contestants are disqualified if they are unable to follow the actions described above or if they have a drink of milk at the eating table.
  • Contestants unable to keep the chilis down will be disqualified.
  • Each contestant is permitted only one glass of water and a glass of milk for the contest. No other food or drink is allowed.
  • Download the waiver attesting that you are in good health.

(from someone in the know)

1. BE A NEWBIE: Statistically speaking, most chili eating competition winners are people who have never entered a competition before. It's not as though previous winners don't re-enter the following year as they tend to want to hold on to their crown. The problem is, they rarely win a second time. We think there is a psychology involved. When you've never entered a competition before, you don't know what's coming. You don't really know how hot the peppers will become and, if you have made it to the last 50%, you may start to think that you are in with a chance of winning. If you have taken part before, you know what's coming and there could well be a subconscious fear dwelling and telling you to stop the madness!

2. LINE YOUR STOMACH: Again, there may be a small psychological aspect to chili eating when the competitors start to realize that all they are eating has to be ingested. It's not dignified but making yourself sick after a competition can prevent a few hours of discomfort. However, throwing up post-competition is not something that will help you during the event. Some heavy dairy products such as cream, ice cream, cheese, etc can assist with the burn in the stomach whereas bananas or fibrous foods can assist with the transit of the chilies once ingested. Knowing that your stomach is prepared can be a big help.

3. BE FEMALE: Most chili eating competitors are male. Whether it's bravado, stupidity or simply considered to be a male "sport", women seem reluctant to enter. However, when women do enter, there is a high chance that they will either be placed in the top 3 or win! Some say it's because women have a higher tolerance to pain whereas others feel that they can deal with the psychology of the event better. Either eay, we find that women often fare well.

4. WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF, NOT OTHERS: If you have ever watched any of the chili eating contest videos on YouTube or in person, you may notice that some contestants are hesitant to eat a chili and watch the others around them take a bite first. This is often borne through worry that the chili will hurt/burn. It's a chili eating contest so of course it will burn! Don't let other people's reactions influence your decisions, just dig deeper and soldier on!

5. EXPRESS YOUR PAIN: Trying to keep a poker face when dealing with spice doesn't make you more interesting or make us think that you are dealing with the heat. We know what to look out for and we can tell when someone is suffering despite a stone cold expressionless face. Those who let it be known that they are suffering often get the support of the crowd and therefore get a much needed boost of inspiration, confidence and will power.

6. BUT THERE'S NO PAIN: A chili is made hot by the oil it produces inside which is called capsaicin. It's actually a neurotoxin which tricks the brain into thinking that the tongue and other parts is detecting pain and being burnt. The same signal is sent to the brain when you burn yourself for real (on a hot stove for example) but capsaicin sends a false signal and, in reality, there is no burn. If you are at one with your mind, body and soul, you may be able to convince yourself that there is no pain but this is easier said than done.

7. CHEW AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE: Okay, we don't want people choking but the less of a chili that is chewed, the less capsaicin will come in contact with your mouth and the less it will burn. Ideal if you are unable to adhere to tip number 6 above like 99.9% of us!

8. DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT SIZE: The same variety of chili peppers can come in varying sizes. It's difficult for us to ensure each chili is the same size and weight. Never has any winning person complained about the pods given and if you feel that you aren't likely to win because you've had slightly larger chilies than everyone else, you aren't likely to win because of your approach.

9. OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: We give all our chili eating contestants a glass of milk, however, if they drink the milk during the contest, they will be disqualified. It's simply there so that, should a contestant wish to bow out, they can use the milk to help start alleviating the burn. If you don't want to be tempted by this cold, cooling white liquid, then move it out of your line of sight until the end.

Chilifest Photo

Chilifest Photo

Chilifest Photo

This video was created in 2011 and refers to the 2011 Chili Fest.

Watch for our 2020 Chili Fest next August and join your neighbors and friends in this annual family friendly event at Pats Peak Ski Area, 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, NH

Admission: Adults, $12.00; children 10 and under, $6.00; infants/toddlers free; Hours: Noon - 4:30 PM

Proceeds from the annual Chili Fest support local, national and international projects sponsored by the Henniker Rotary Club and Rotary International.

Copyright ©
Lakeside Web Design
All information was accurate when published, but can change without notice.