Attention all chili aficionados: cooks and tasters are invited to participate in the first-ever Smoke-off and Chili Cook-off Saturday at Jam at the Ridge.
Campers at the Le Roy site are organizing the contest, and anyone from the public can join the culinary fun by showing up with your own equipment and ingredients, and cook. Said to be first documented in an 1828 journal, according to allrecipes.com, chili varies from sweet to hot peppers, beans or no beans, rice, pasta, meat or vegetarian style, and assorted types of tomato sauce.
Organizers plan to begin offering samples around 2 p.m. for $1 donation, and judging is set for 4 p.m.
Besides the satisfaction of being named as the best chili chef in the area, participants will also help to raise funds — all proceeds, including the $20 entry fee, are going — for American Legion and local veterans.
There will also be raffle and silent auctions, with sports memorabilia and tickets to local sporting events as some of the items.
It’s free to enter the park and event for spectators, and $20 for anyone outside of the camp who wants to participate in the cook-off. Bring your own coolers and chairs, or visit the full bar and restaurant on site at 8101 Conlon Road, Le Roy. The Jam’s renaissance event will also be happening this weekend.
"I've got a firecracker feeling," sings Jocelyn Arndt, lead vocalist in the brother and sister duo, Jocelyn & Chris, headliners Saturday night at Jam at the Ridge, and she certainly does.
Jocelyn lit up the stage while Chris laid down some tight groves and slinky guitar riffs during a high-energy set on a clear summer evening.
The Arndts have been writing songs together since they were in middle school in their hometown of Fort Plain, about 30 minutes west of Albany. Since then, they've built a solid career based on hook-laden pop-rock songs highlighting Jocelyn's high-energy dynamics and her Janice Joplin-like powerful, blues-inflected vocals. They've appeared on Paste Studio, Jam in the Van, and The Today Show.
Jam at the Ridge co-owner David Luetticke-Archbell is certainly impressed with Jocelyn & Chris, and said he intends to bring them back in future concert seasons to help them build a local following.
In a do-it-yourself career that goes back about a decade, Jocelyn and Chris Arndt, who front the band Jocelyn & Chris, have never been ones to sit idle for long.
“We’re always racing ahead and looking for the next thing to do,” Jocelyn said in a late-July phone interview.
But a pandemic can stop just about anything. And that’s what happened in March 2020, just as this brother and sister from Fort Plain in upstate New York were finishing a new album planned for release ahead of a summer tour.
The band had seen their career gain momentum in 2019 when Jocelyn & Chris made their national television debut, performing the song “Outta My Head” on the “Today Show,” while the song “Kill in the Cure” charted on AAA radio. So it wasn’t great timing to see a major tour get canceled, and the new album put on hold.
But the album, “Favorite Ghosts,” benefited from the pause.
The Arndts, who write all of their songs together, re-examined their new songs and realized some weren’t everything they could be. And now that “Favorite Ghosts” is out, they feel things worked out for the better.
“Honestly, I’m thankful for the album being the way it is,” said Chris, who joined his sister for the interview. “I’m more proud of it than anything else that we’ve ever made. But it’s a little bit funny to think about the fact that the version that the world almost got (two years ago) is so different from the version that the world ended up getting.”
The Arndt siblings are justifiably proud of “Favorite Ghosts.” They have three impressive previous full-length studio albums to their credit, and the new album is a particularly rich and varied effort. It ranges from the taut and catchy blues-tinged rock of “Sugar and Spice,” “Skeleton Key” and “Break Me Down” to the pop-rock of “Run Away,” the folk-inflected “So Far To Fly” to the downright delicate title track, showcasing Jocelyn’s powerhouse vocals and Chris’ tasteful guitar work along the way.
“Favorite Ghosts” will figure prominently into their July 30 show at Jam at the Ridge. They’re looking forward to their introduction to the venue.
“We’ve been all over Western New York, around Lake Ontario and stuff,” Chris said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done Jam at the Ridge, though.”
“It seems like a cool thing they’ve got going on,” Jocelyn concurred.