ASHEBORO, NC - An Internet search indicates that chili has been an American dish for centuries. The beef concoction has tickled taste buds of presidents, outlaws, actors, writers and families everywhere. Some like it mild, others hot - to the point of sweating.

So to bring people together, the Old Time Chili Cookoff will be held on Saturday, April 16 in Bicentennial Park in Asheboro from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free, but if you want to participate in the tasting and voting for the People's Choice award, you'll need to purchase a $5 wristband.

Cooks will begin setting up around 6 a.m. All cooking will be done at the event. Canned tomatoes, beans and the like are permitted, but nothing can be prepared in advance.

Each participant is vying for the $600 Grand Prize, $400 Second Place, $200 People's Choice and the $200 Showmanship awards.

A panel of judges will begin tasting each chili at noon. They will be looking for color, aroma, consistency, taste and aftertaste. Each judge will complete a ballot and add the points up to determine winners.

The ballot for the People's Choice award is much different. It will only indicate the number of the cook's booth. There is no criteria - except what people like.

Cooks have been strategizing for weeks on how to win the awards. Last year, there was a tie-breaker with Kim Jarmon taking home the grand prize, followed by Danny Tyson. Charles Fowler won the People's Choice by a landslide.

While the chili contest is going on, the park will be filled with other activities. The Cruisin' for Miracles Car Show provided lots of sparkle, curiosity and photo ops for people last year. Muscle cars. Street rods. Antique cars. Classic cars. There was even a composite car made from a wide assortment of items.

Each entry will receive a dash plaque and be eligible for other prizes. Organizer Gerald Cain has 40 trophies to give away. He is the general manager of the Asheboro Golden Corral restaurant. Golden Corral supports the Children's Miracle Network (CMN) which helps local families offset the cost of medical care for their children at Duke Hospital.

Cars are asked to use the entrance to the park on Sunset Avenue. The entrance on Academy Street will be flanked by a cornhole tournament and a Small Business Festival produced by the Small Business Center and GATE (Growing American Through Entrepreneurship) program at Randolph Community College.

More than a dozen booths will be set up with companies showcasing their products and services. Each will be holding a drawing for a giveaway. A graduate of the program will be selling Japanese koi for use in residential and farm pools.

A group of potters from RCC will be selling their pieces, too. A refurbished 1963 Sears lawn mower will be on display along with several tractors to promote some of the community college's small engine repair and welding classes.

The cornhole tournament is sponsored by Adventures Beyond Classrooms, a fund to finance field trips for students in Randolph County and Asheboro City Schools. The 2009 Leadership Randolph class, a program of the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, established the project to increase the number of children participating in enriching field trips. Often students who cannot afford excursions are left behind.

Space is limited, so organizers encourage early registration for the cornhole tournament and car show. Cornhole teams can register through the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce at 336-626-2626. Drivers can register by calling Gerald Cain at 336-625-6734.

The layout of this year's event is completely different than it was in 2010. Cars will park near the Sunset Avenue entrance. Chili cookers will be set up in the middle of Bicentennial Park.

Chris Kelly and Rock 92 will be set up near the beer tent which will be located behind The Exchange, near the cooks. Festival concession food vendors will be set up close by.

Bouncy inflatable games for children will be set up between the chili cooks and the Academy Street entrance. Door prizes will be handed out throughout the day for people purchasing tickets to the chili cookoff and for car drivers. One of the prizes will be a gas grill from Lowe's Home Improvement of Asheboro.

In 2010, bands on the stage in Bicentennial Park faced the cooks on Sunset Avenue. This year, they'll be facing Academy Street and the beer tent. Two popular bands, The Fairlanes and Red Mojo, along with a DJ, will perform throughout the afternoon. Both bands play a variety of blues music.

The Old Time Chili Cookoff could not produce this event without the generosity of the following: Firecracker Sponsors, The Randolph Guide and Rock 92 FM; Hot Shot Sponsors, Triad Corrugated Metal, Inc., Space Walk of Asheboro, Signs & Designs and PIP Printing of Asheboro; Fire Starter Sponsors, Line Drive Graphics, Silver Eagle, LLC, Chili's of Asheboro, Magnolia 23 of Asheboro, LSI Services, Inc, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, Sentry Fire Protection Co., Piedmont Fasteners, K&A Consignment & Collectibles.

For more information, call Cindy Wilkins at 336-430-8372, visit Old Time Chili Cookoff on Facebook or Pictures of the event will be posted throughout April 16 on both Internet sites.