It’s a fall tradition, football, game day food and passing the time with family and friends. But in Dixon, the community gets together for a bigger purpose on Sunday at their Ultimate Tailgate in downtown Dixon. The Ultimate Tailgate is a decade long tradition in Dixon that residents look forwards to all year to eat chili, play bags and raise money to improve their community.
“Watch football, eat some chili and have a beer”, says organizer Jennifer Lang.
Dixon’s Ultimate Tailgate has been bringing the community and businesses together for over a decade and it’s how dozens chose to watch the Bears-Patriots game.
Josh Shippert says, “family, friends, everybody comes out for it”.
Matthew Lenox continues, “get together enjoy kind of the last remnants of the good weather before it starts getting really cold”.
The smell of chili is in the air at the annual tailgate as the crowds sample favorites with local bars, restaurants, and other organizations competing in a chili cook off.
“Given eleven tickets cause there’s eleven entries, we encourage you to go to every single one and sample all those eleven and then we do give you another ticket to vote for your best”, explains Lang.
Friends practice their bags technique, hitting the boards getting ready for the tournament.
Shippert says, “plus I usually take a victory every year in the bags tournament, or I try, I try at least”.
“Not this year”, added Zach Howard.
While Dixon isn’t the first small town to have a chili cook off, the Ultimate Tailgate helps raise money to put back into the community to keep other Dixon traditions going.
“Our Christmas Walk, our West End Fest, Blues, Brews and BBQ”, said Lenox.
Lenox continued, “we also give out tourism grants every year to local organizations that help support tourism in the area”.
People in Dixon have come out to support the cause time and time again, and in any conditions.
“I’ve been out here last three years I think”, said Howard.
Shippert added, “this is like year number eight for me”.
Linda Durham says, “it’s been chili cook offs where it’s been 80 degrees and people are running around in halter tops”.
“Oh yea, it could be snowing and we’d still come out for it”, said Shippert.