Chili Cookoff

Cooking Up Community Through Chili

By Rick Abell

Every year the transition from the warm days of summer to the cool days of fall are marked by the Lenexa Chili Challenge. At least it is where I live! Over 32 years the Chili Challenge has grown into a community event that brings about 200 teams into Old Town Lenexa, Kansas to battle it out for the title of best chili of the year. The day of the event can sometimes be very warm, but you can rest assured that in the next few weeks you are going to see the trees start changing colors and get that first blast of cold air. I know as soon as the Chili Challenge is over, I’m going to have to start looking over my checklists for the Fall and Winter months.

One of the reasons I decided to live in Lenexa is for these types of events that bring the community together. Why would anybody in residential real estate care about the Lenexa Chili Challenge? Well, it’s a community event and community events are a great way to get to know your community more intimately. What’s important to the people living there? What are their concerns? What’s happening that may drive property values up or down? What else can you glean from an event like the Lenexa Chili Challenge?

1. Community Building

You get to see and meet a lot of your neighbors and share fun stories over samples of some pretty good chili. People who know each other tend to care a bit more about each other and the benefits can be rewarding. It gets you invested in the community. You watch out for your neighbors and they watch out for you. You get to know the neighborhood kids and their parents. (Maybe it will cut down on some mischief if those kids know the person who owns the property he and his friends are playing around.) Knowing your neighbors is a great way to have an extra set of eyes on your properties when you can’t be there.

2. Community Safety

You get to see how the community responds to safety. Police and firemen always show up to these events. I got the opportunity to ask a couple of firemen what happened the other night when I saw several fire engines in the neighborhood responding to a call. As a result, they see my concern for my neighborhood and property, and maybe they’ll think to look over at my property when they drive by during their regular patrols, just because they met me.

3. Opportunity

Heck, I even heard talk about a few folks who are thinking about moving out of the neighborhood… now I might have a few investment leads.

4. Cooking Safety

The Chili Challenge is a great way to educate people about the risks inherent with cooking. There are safety requirements that are espoused in the rules, like making sure you have a head cook, who is responsible for the running of each team and overall safety of each team’s event space. It is also required that you have a fire extinguisher near your cooking area. Each team makes sure that cooking appliances, such as stoves, grills and crock pots are not left unattended.

5. Fire Safety

Other safety requirements are enforced as conditions change. A windy day means, no fire pits. A real bummer when you are trying to keep warm, but an understandable precaution to protect the safety of the public and surrounding houses and buildings.

The Prize & Your Own Chili Challenge

We didn’t do as well this year as we have in the past, but we had a great time cooking and comparing chili’s and figuring out what we will do different next year. We met a lot of wonderful people in the community, along with those there to help us when we need it most.

What’s going on in your community? How are you participating where you live or invest? Do you have any fun stories you can share about your community involvement or an interesting event in your area? Let me know and if you’d like, I’ll send my mild, but spicy chili recipe to you, I’m always looking for reviews and ways to make it better! Drop me a line at Here’s to making your community great and to your investing success!

Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ and the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ logo are trademarks of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used with permission.