Get your ears and your lips ready, because the 11th Annual Lip Rippin' Chilympics Chilli Cookoff returns to Murrells Inlet this Sunday packed full of enough food and music to push each appendage to its limits.
The free event will feature 29 teams and 43 different varieties of chili — not to mention five great bands — all in an effort to raise money for the Grand Strand chapter of The Surfrider Foundation and educate people about what the organization does.
"It's a lot of fun for the whole family," said Bruxanne Hein, co-chair of the group. "Last year we probably had three or four thousand folks show up and we raised $17,000 for our all-volunteer nonprofit organization."
The Surfrider Foundation is a grassroots, nonprofit, environmental organization that works to protect our oceans, waves, and beaches.
"Our chapter does alot of the beach sweeps you see going on year round," says Hein. "We are also working to keep withers swash clean, we do elementary and preschool programs on keeping oceans clean, we're working with CCU on stormwater drain marking project and with Horry and Georgetown counties to protect beach access."
And while these efforts can sometimes be an uphill battle in an area that's constantly under fire for it's water quality, Hein says her group's efforts and activism have definitely been successful.
"We have seen more and more municipalities becoming aware of these issues and trying to improve the water quality," she says, noting that Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach are currently working on efforts to move their storm drains so they're not right along the beach where people swim.
Another area where the group has been successful is in bringing great music to their event each year.
This year's lineup features Americana artist Danielle Howle, quirky Surf rockers The Noseriders, laid-back reggae/ska band the Strike-O-Matics and local acts the Josh Brannon Band and Ten Toes Up.
Charleston acoustic act and Universal Republic recording artists Crowfield were also supposed to join the show, but weren't able to work out the scheduling and will try to return for next years' event.
While Hein says she's excited about all the bands, she claims a special connection to one.
"I've known Danielle Howle for 22 years, back since she was Danielle Howle and The Tantrums," she says. "She's a fantastic musician. She's the artist-in-residence at Awendaw Green and they do these amazing barn jams out there that you have to see."
Hein also had great things to say about headlining act Ten Toes Up.
"They're great guys and really good friends of ours down here. They've been playing with us ever since we moved to Murrells Inlet in 2003."
And if all the music and chili isn't enough to bring you out, the Chilympics will also have food and beverage vendors, including beer from local New South Brewery, and a kids area with facepainting, surfrider (temporary) tattoos and other fun and games.
"It’s going to beautiful weather, it’s something you can bring your children to and you’re going to get to try some of the best no-rules chilis in Southeast." she said.
"We get some really fun and interesting combinations that you wouldn’t think to make chili with. Things like Alligator and ham, Quail and wild boar...someone even said Ostrich was a possibility. Folks get really creative and it makes it really fun. And that’s what it’s really about having fun, raising awareness, and rasing some money for a good cause."