Chilifest began in a Walmart parking lot as a Sigma Alpha Epsilon chili cookoff fundraiser. Today, it is a Miller Lite-sponsored country music festival that attracts over 35,000 people. But that’s not to say it’s abandoned its fraternity roots. Sure, Willie Nelson has headlined on more than one occasion, but one of the main draws of Chilifest is the college party culture. Texas A&M students go all out with their “builds,” constructing mini cities with themes like “American Pi Kapp,” “World War Tau” and “Sigma Chi South Beach.” It’s difficult to locate any actual chili, but you’ll find lots of lukewarm beer and frat men in jorts.
Taking place this year from March 31 to April 1, Chilifest will be headlined by country music artists Jamey Johnson and Whiskey Myers. Chilifest prides itself in spotlighting Texas artists — whether that be the legendary Nelson or Texas A&M grad Carson Jeffrey.
If you want to experience the grimy life of an undergraduate, Chilifest is for you. Know a brother? Maybe he’ll let you in on a game of beer pong in his build, which he started working on six weeks in advance. Underage drinking is a given Chilifest, but there’s little concern about getting caught. Afterall, you can avoid an MIP by challenging a cop to a game of rock paper scissors.
On the administrative side, Chilifest is still run by students, and it is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Its main purpose is to support charities in Brazos Valley, Texas, and in 2019 alone, it raised $200,000. Even though people primarily come for the party, there is still a chili cook-off, and the winner goes home with $1,500 and 4 VIP tickets to Chilifest 2024.
- Over 35,000 people are expected to attend
- The festival has raised over $3,500,000 since it first began
- Ticket pricing depends on what day(s) you want to go and if you want to attend as part of a team or build. The complete breakdown can be found here.
- Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to Texas here.