Czhilispiel is a nod to Flatonia’s Czech and German heritage. First, the name comes from a play on the word “Chili.” The addition of the “z” is a play on a Czech spelling, and the German word “spiel” means play.
The festival started in 1973 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Flatonia. Czhilispiel began as a fundraiser to help fund a local Flatonia student's medical school education. At the time Flatonia needed a doctor, so the residents organized the Czech heritage festival and chili cook-off, Czhilispiel. The student agreed to serve the community for at least five years after completing medical school, but ended up staying longer. Czhilispiel continues to use proceeds from the event to benefit local needs, whether for students or community services.
Over the years, Czhilispiel has grown from a small cook-off to a larger event with a concert series, biergarten, carnival, parade, arts and crafts market, 5K and various activities throughout the weekend. It is held every year on the fourth full weekend of October.
Some of the past performers have included: Robert Earl Keen, Eli Young Band, Stoney LaRue, Aaron Watson, Brave Combo, The Bellamy Brothers, The Velvets, The Shiner Hobo Band, The Dujka Brothers, Cory Morrow, Wade Bowen, and many, many more.
Czhilispiel also has a variety of opportunities for partnerships as sponsors, commercial and food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, cook-off and event participants, and for volunteers. The event is 100% volunteer driven.