(Editor’s Note: Sam Niebeling has been a volunteer photographer for the Baldwin Bulletin for most of 2021. While most of you know his work behind the lens, an opportunity to write for the Bulletin hasn’t presented itself as much as we would like. I was wondering if he’d give his thoughts on his favorite chili from the Chili Fest to get a different perspective and he agreed. So, while this space is usually reserved for my thoughts or beliefs, I’m taking the week off and giving Sam a shot. Enjoy.) 


The chili was a mix of flavors this year that made for a good time at Baldwin’s Chili Fest. I happened to try the Baldwin Police Department’s chili to start out the day. I was going hunting for the best chili, and it was a hard one to find. In my opinion, the best chili is open to interpretation of the taster. I was looking for a good chili that put its self in a class of its own. I was looking for something different from the rest of them. I will admit that only having enough time to try the east half of Main Street and the Police Department’s chili, my results are possibly skewed a little. 

I found my way over to the Schweet Stop next where they were serving up a sweet chili with a spicy sucker. The chili was just a little too sweet for my liking. I am a fan of spicy but not to where you would catch me doing a hot wing challenge. Then, there was The Stash and that made for a good chili. It was just spicy enough not to be overwhelming for me, but for Jason, it was just a little spicy. Next, I went to the A&W booth and It was not all that bad but was a little runny. I have found that there is almost a fine line between soup and chili and that if chili is a little too runny, it can almost be a soup. 

After that, I went to the one that I found, which was my favorite, and that was Jim Daddies. The barbecue made for a flavor that set this one apart from the rest. It made for a chili with flavor and the brisket was a nice touch that set it apart from the rest. Midwest Dental was to follow, along with Associated Bank, and they both were good but not much set them apart. Next was the three Kickled Mary’s which were all good. The Kickled Mary in the middle, even garnished it like a bloody with a pickle and cheese curd, but it left me wondering where the chicken wing, and strip of bacon was for the garnish to make it a Wisconsin Bloody Mary. 

North Meets South made for a good chili but there was nothing that set it apart from the rest. It was not a bad chili, but I had a hard time finding what set it apart. Then, there was the winner from the judges and the people. This was Steven Ring and Vanessa Flores. I found their chili was one of those that was really good but did not have enough of a kick. The barbecue flavor they had was a definite boost to their ranking. The pulled pork was also a nice touch, but it was lacking the spice that I was searching for. Steven and Vanessa put their chili into a smaller category that stands out. I thought they all were good but there can only be one photographer’s choice award and that goes to Jim Daddies. 

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