For 361 days of the year, Terlingua, Texas is a ghost town. For the other four days, people pour in from across the world for the Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff. For the past 50 years, Terlingua has been the home of the world’s largest and most competitive chili cookoff.
What began in 1967 as a gimmick to promote Dallas Morning News journalist Frank X. Tolbert’s book A Bowl of Red has developed into an annual tradition, attracting chili cooks from across the world. The winner of the very first championship cookoff, Wick Fowler, was diagnosed with and passed away from ALS, and over 30 years after its start, the cookoff became a party with a purpose.