EDGERTON

Tom Reitz wants you to know about Morgan Wallen.

Reitz, the Edgerton dentist who is entertainment coordinator for Chilimania and its accompanying Country Edge festival, said Wallen is country music’s next big star—and he will be headlining this year’s festival Sept. 7-8 on North Henry Street in downtown Edgerton.

“I really feel like we have to consider calling this the ‘Chilimania Music Festival’ or something like that to get people to understand it’s not just a chili cookoff,” Reitz said. “We have acts that come in from all over the county, and I just need people to know this is a big musical festival.”

The fourth annual Country Edge music festival launches Friday, Sept. 7, and it features the local duo A Tad of Sarahcha and the Milwaukee-based country band Saving Savannah. Headlining that night is Wallen, the rising county star whose YouTube video “Up Down” has amassed almost 40 million views.

Tickets for the show are $10 in advance or $15 at the gate.

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“This guy’s huge. We landed him back in the spring,” Reitz said of Wallen. “This thing (Country Edge) is going to grow and grow and grow. We’re in the process of ramping up our entertainment.”

The 29th annual Chilimania festival, which Reitz said is the single largest chili cookoff in the Midwest, will commence Saturday, Sept. 8. More than 50 people will be competing by making homemade chili in the span of about three hours.

One arm of Chilimania is the Wisconsin State CASI Chili CookOff, where the winning cook will advance to international competition in Terlingua, Texas. Reitz said the recipe for the state chili cookoff is pretty simple: “It’s meat and sauce.”

A traditional chili cookoff also will take place Sept. 8, with participants vying for cash prizes. Tickets for the chili cookoffs are $8 at the gate.

The cookoffs are longtime staples of Chilimania. Reitz said cooks travel from the Midwest, Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Oklahoma to participate. Judging is led by the public, and would-be judges can sign up at the festival at noon.

Tastings begin at 3 p.m. and usually last about an hour. There are three rounds of blind judging before the 20 best chilies are whittled down to the final round. Only one will advance to the international competition.

Saturday’s cookoffs also will feature a Bloody Mary-making showdown at 2 Brothers Bar & Grill, 116 W. Fulton St., and a salsa competition throughout the day. Beer will be available for purchase, and Timber Hill Winery of Milton will provide wine. For the first time, Reitz said Bloody Marys will be available for purchase.

Also on Saturday is the Chili Chase 5k/10k walk and fun run. Participants are encouraged to dress in chili-themed costumes, and everyone receives “Bloody beers” after crossing the finish line. Registration is $40.

On Friday, food vendors will be set up throughout downtown during Country Edge. Reitz said vendors will serve barbecue, funnel cakes and other “fair food.”

Proceeds from Chilimania and Country Edge will be forked over to Edgerton High School and other charitable organizations in Edgerton. Last year, Reitz said the nonprofit festival donated $25,000 to Edgerton High School scholarships.

“It’s a great big street party,” Reitz said. “We say if you don’t like the chili, come for the mania.”

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