‘Oldest Dive Bar in Texas’ Hosts Backbone Chili Cook-Off

devil's backbone tavern
Facebook image courtesy of David Yarrow Photography.
Facebook image courtesy of David Yarrow Photography.

Fierce competition is expected Saturday as chili teams gather for the Backbone Chili Cook-Off at Devil’s Backbone Tavern, 4041 FM 32, Fischer.

Teams will cook chili on-site and from scratch, and organizers hope the public will show up and cast ballots to decide which makes the best batch.

The festival opens at 9 a.m. but tasting and judging run from 2-4 p.m. Spectators must pay a $5 fee to participate in People’s Choice Judging.

The Sinclair Gas Station will open for tours. Cornhole toss boards will be set up.

The public also is invited to experience the “Best Jukebox in Texas.”

Local folk artist David Richardson created a unique, handcrafted trophy for the Grand Prize Team.

A Devil’s Backbone Tavern swag bag valued at $200 goes to the best-decorated team and tent.

Rules of the house:

  • Chili must be cooked from scratch — no marinating allowed.
  • Commercial chili powder is permissible but commercial chili mixes aren’t.
  • Fillers like beans, macaroni, rice, hominy and other ingredients not permitted.

The famed tavern was allegedly built on the site of an ancient Indian campground. Its other claim to fame is ghosts.

Former owner Rick Ferguson, who sold the bar to musician Robyn Ludwick, sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison, and husband John, said: “There are some (stories) where people see Confederate riders that ride on horses at night. Then there are Indian ghosts and various other ghosts they see in the area. There are also stories about a lady-in-white walking off on the side of the road and then suddenly disappearing.

As reported in a MyCanyonLake.com story from October 2020, tavern regular Robert Kelly once claimed to see shadowy figures up on the Devil’s Backbone, the ridge the tavern is named after.

“Oh, there are ghosts, I guaran-goddamn-tee-you.”

For more information email info@devilsbackbonetavern.com or call 830-964-2544.

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