Fall means it is time for the most unique food experience in the Valley! Learn about life on the wagon trail at the 8th Annual Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10-11. This popular event offers families, history buffs, and foodies a chance to experience 1880s chuck wagons cooking authentic trail meals over an open fire, local music from Valley Fever, interactive exhibits and artisan vendors at Chandler’s Tumbleweed Ranch. More than 6,000 people from all over the Valley and the Southwest can’t be wrong!

We spoke to some expert attendees who come every year to ask them how they have the best time at the event. Here are their tips for going to the Annual Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off :

  1. Come early on Saturday, Nov. 11 to get a ticket for a coveted competition meal. Each participating chuck wagon makes 50 five-course meals. This is why people travel from Las Vegas and San Diego…all for these delicious meals. Tickets are $15 and go on sale at 10 a.m. that day. Tickets are first come, first served and usually sell out in 30 minutes. Gates open at 9 a.m. and the line forms quickly.
  2. The Chuck Wagon Cook-Off is outside. Even though the weather is cooling off in November, don’t forget to bring a hat, water and sunscreen.
  3. Getting a competition meal is not important to you or you don’t want to wait in line? New this year, people can purchase advanced tickets for a catered meal served on Saturday, Nov. 11. For $20, get a catered chuck wagon-style meal, including water and access to shade. If you are thinking about getting one of these tickets, buy it online now; there will be a limited number to purchase at the event.  Tickets can be purchased online here.
  4. Bring cash to buy small plates (cinnamon rolls, donuts, huevos rancheros, pork stew, chili, frybread) from the competing Chuck Wagons on Friday or if you want to purchase tasty treats and unique gifts from any of the event’s vendors over the two days.
  5. On Friday evening, Nov. 10, bring a blanket and all of the makings for s’mores. The campfire glow is 6 – 8 p.m. It’s a fun family evening of toasting marshmallows and listening to cowboy tunes played by local musician Chip Hanna.  Psst…don’t have the makings for a s’mores? There will be s’mores kits for sale at the event.
  6. Want a unique night out with your sweetie? Purchase tickets for the Sunset Dinner at the Ranch on Friday, Nov. 10, 5 – 7 p.m. Tickets are $40 each, include a steak dinner and the amazing music of Tony and Rick Martinez. There will be local beer and wine available for purchase. Proceeds support the work of nonprofit Pardners of Tumbleweed Ranch. This is the first year for this event!
  7. Wear comfortable shoes. There is opportunity to explore The Ranch to see the chuck wagons, enjoy a demonstration from the Arizona Historical Society or walk around the Choose Your Own Cattle Drive Adventure exhibit.
  8. Comfortable shoes will also come in handy when you want to dance and tap your toe; there is a lot more music this year thanks to Valley Fever.  Barefoot and Pregnant are back again this year on Friday, along with Chip Hanna for the campfire. On Saturday, enjoy Pick and Holler and August Manley’s Premiere Waylon Jennings Tribute Band.  
  9. Talk to the teams at the chuck wagons! They are always so happy to talk about their hobby and their experiences with outdoor cooking. You couldn’t meet nicer people.
  10. Don’t forget to try the delicious chuck wagon soda, served in a tin cup, or watch the black smith do his work.

This event is presented by Chandler Museum and Pardners of Tumbleweed Ranch. While admission to this event is free, there is a charge for beverages and food. Parking is free.

Tumbleweed Ranch is located at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, in the southeast corner of the park.

For more information, visit the Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-Off webpage.