LAWRENCE — A half-dozen locals are already fine-tuning their recipes, neighboring cities and towns want in on the action, and at least one local celebrity wants to judge the city's International Chili Cookoff this June.

"There's been a lot of interest. It's really overwhelming," said Mayor Michael Sullivan, who will serve as an official chili contest official on June 8.

The International Chili Society has sanctioned Lawrence as an official cook-off site on June 8. Thousands of people are expected to flock to the city for the spicy event, which will feature traditional chili, chili verde (green chili) and salsa-making contests. Local firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and teachers will participate in a separate chili-making contest that day. Four local groups also will face off in a battle of the bands later that afternoon.

Proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Lawrence Rotary Club, go to charity.

Methuen's Tommy Grella, a well-known local chef, fundraiser and financial planner, also wants to volunteer at the event. Grella last year competed on the "The Next Food Network Star."

"This is really creating a buzz," said John MacDonald, spokesman for Sal's Riverwalk on Merrimack Street, where the chili fest is being held.

Organizers yesterday also unveiled their official chili cook-off logo, created by Gretchen Bond of O'Neil Marketing in North Chelmsford.

The chili society is a nonprofit organization that sanctions 300 chili cook-offs per year at venues all over the world to raise money for charity. Winners of the society's sanctioned cook-offs qualify to compete for cash prizes and awards at the World Championship Cookoff.

For more information on the cook-off categories, entrance fees and rules, check out

Recommended for you