The South Park/North Park community has a gold mine here. You buy your little sampler pottery bowl for $20 and get to taste five chilis. Want more? Buy another five sample pass for $15 and reuse your bowl. Bring your bowls back from the previous year, too, if you like.
All of the tax deductible proceeds from this event go to benefit the Spanish, art, and music programs at McKinley Elementary… to the tune of over $50K last year.
I realized really quickly that the best strategy for tasting the best chili is the most simple- when my bowl is empty, I try the chili from the nearest booth. It is that simple- they are all are delicious!! One of my favorites was the Duck Confit, Lardon, Sausage and White Bean Chili from Café Madeleine for a non-traditional chili. I’m not the biggest chili fan… OH MY GOSH THIS WAS DELICIOUS!!
My overall favorite was a Pork Belly and Smoked Brisket from The Deck at Moonshine Flats. An unbelievable, savory, meaty, flavorful taste and overall the best chili I’ve ever had. So there. Eat your heart out, every other place. This is something that is served in Heaven, I am sure.
Another out of this word chili came from City Tacos, and may well have been completely unplanned. When they ran out of their Albondigas Chili, they substituted Carnitas. I am already a huge fan of carnitas, and this sample was pushed over the top when topped by chicharrones and tortilla chip strips. I KNOW, RIGHT??? CHICHARRONES!!!
“Into the fun zone we go,” declared the ID checker we entered the Beer Garden. When one of our group (we’re looking at you, Johnnie!!) was holding up the Chili Sampling (Round 2!) with their unfinished beer, we decided to institute a new motto: Drink for Those Who Can’t… as in, if you can’t finish fast enough, we are now going to help finish it for you!
Music at both ends of the festival, student pottery available for purchase from the incredible gallery that is partly responsible for the SoNo Fest, unique vendors, and a handful of food trucks rounded out the sights for the day. Food trucks? I guess if you think you don’t like chili, you still will find some great eats here.
What does a community do after it has been quite literally and most painfully duped by evil in their midst? They hold the massive, charitable event, as they have for more than 60 years, and see that children and entire families are cared for at Christmas time and throughout the entire year. Here comes Santa ClausIncorporated.San Bernardino will continue to give because that is what this community does- it cares.
A whole lotta people showed up for not just a fundraising luncheon (delicious salad, stuffed chicken, vegetables, and dessert, by the way).
We were there to bid on a silent auction, a live auction, watch a dance/fashion show featuring styles from Macy’s collections and some very talented dancers… and the most fun event of the day… see who wins the Christmas Trees Raffles- who will win not only the trees, but all the decorations and gifts on and underneath these professionally decorated beauties!
Oh no! What does Santa Claus Inc. do when some of their usual volunteers cannot show up (law enforcement in the area was extra busy this week)? The Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Club stepped in to offer their help.
I learned a few new things about this gigantic event- not only are children and their families matched with gifts and warm clothing from Santa Claus Inc., but these kids are often helped out with needs that come up throughout the year. They are not forgotten. The care and giving is year-round.
Look them up- if you are interested in donating to an organization with an army of volunteers who help clothe and bring joy to thousands (as in, over 750,000 people over the decades- that’s almost a million!), Santa Claus Inc. may be a great fit for your generosity.
And please remember: like most charities, Santa Claus Inc. does not ask whether a child or their family is Christian, agnostic, Jewish, atheist, a non-believer, or Muslim. This is a group that cares about the well-being of a child. That is all.
AND WILL YOU LOOK AT THIS: what happens at our table? A friend of the family wins this beautiful tree! Congratulations, Tanya!
Those of us that didn’t win were able to partake of the adult beverages… I can personally vouch for the Bloody Marys.
I have tried very hard to be accurate about the details surrounding this wonderful event- any mistakes are mine alone, and I will get them corrected as soon as they are pointed out to me. I can attest to these facts- I didn’t win a tree again this year, boo! They make a mean Bloody Mary at the Santa Claus Inc. bar. We admit that once again, we did take the leftover half of our table’s coffee cake home to my mom like we have for several years in a row (no sense in wasting good sweets!). Biker dudes and women are cool, and San Bernardino is beautiful.