Few foods bring out a competitive edge quite like chili. Is it the deceivingly easy preparation that's inspired chili cook-offs across America? Is it the dish's long simmering time that led foodies to turn cooking into an all-day party? Or maybe it's just because many chefs use beer in their recipes?
Whatever the reason, the KISS Country Chili Cook-Off has been celebrating chili, sunshine, and country music every year since its inception in 1986. The fest was originally held at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach, with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band providing the only entertainment; admission cost $4.99. Since then, the party has grown larger in every imaginable way over the past three decades. This year's musical lineup, headed to C.B. Smith Park, has brought some heavy-hitters for country music fans, including Lee Brice, Joe Nichols, Granger Smith, and Chris Lane.
But the big-boy headliner is Florida Georgia Line, the multi-multimillion-selling superstar duo that is equally hated and beloved for being the standard-bearer of bro-country.
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Though love for chili is fairly universal, bro-country of the kind that Brian Kelley (from Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (from Georgia) create is, well, an acquired taste. Wikipedia defines the bro-country genre as hip-hop-and-rock-influenced country featuring lyrics "about attractive young women, the consumption of alcohol, partying, and pickup trucks." Florida Georgia Line has a massive audience — its song "Cruise" is the best-selling country song of all time, cracking the 10 million mark — but there are plenty of country fans who'd question whether that's a good thing. In a 2015 column, New Times pointed out that bro-country in the style of Florida Georgia Line is "everything that country-music haters hate about country music: forced drawls, offensively catchy chords, a fervor for reckless self-determination, hedonism, convenient religiosity, and backward conservatism with an undercurrent of racism. It's also pretty much loathed by any artists who consider themselves authentic country musicians."
Arguments about an artist's authenticity are common in the music world. Debates over the best ways to cook foods with a following, such as chili, are equally typical among foodies. Whose snobs reign supreme?
There's only one way to find out, and it involves a drive to Pembroke Pines.
32nd-Annual 99.9 KISS Country Chili Cook-Off
8:30 a.m. Sunday, January 29, at CB Smith Park, 900 N. Flamingo Rd., Pembroke Pines; 954-357-5170; Tickets cost $52 via completeticketsolutions.com.