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Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew

Butts-N-Racks team going for win
at this year’s cooking event

They have finished third and second in previous years

(October 2017) – The fall event, Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew, continues to grow in size and popularity in Madison, Ind. And 2017 marks the 15th year for this family-friendly festival.
This year’s event is set from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, right on Madison’s Main Street, which is closed to traffic during the festival.


Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew

• 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, on Madison, Ind.’s Main Street (street closed to traffic)
• Free admission.
• Presented by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce

Music Schedule

Main Stage:
11 a.m. - noon: Bill Lancton & Jimmy Davis
12:30-1:30 p.m.: Two Buck Chuck
2-3:15 p.m.: Rusty Balden
3:45-5 p.m.: Joe D'Amato (Elton John impersonator)

Red Peppermint Stage:
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Amy Noel
1:15-2:30 p.m.: Warren Shacklette
3-4:15 p.m.: Maren Hunselman

Red Bicycle Stage:
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.: Chris Webster
1:15-2:30 p.m.: Russ Baum
3-4:15 p.m.: Cari Ray

• Information:
(812) 265-3135

Even though this is considered a cook-off competition, visitors to the festival also get to enjoy a full slate of music and other activities. It’s all about the fun.
One group in particular that has placed quite well the last few years is Butts-N-Racks, Since this is their third year, and they still haven’t won first place, the brother duo is hoping to win this year. Gene and Brent Copeland placed third and second in previous years, and they hope this is their time.
“Our signature dish is pulled pork chili,’ Gene Copeland said. “We sell a lot. We went through 18 gallons the first year and 23 gallons the second year.”
Even though they may seem like amateurs at this event, these brothers actually compete in multiple professional barbecue competitions every year and are in more than nine this year. One of the competitions for which Madison is known is the Ribberfest’s Kansas City BBQ Society-sanctioned contest.
“The worst thing about competition is you think it’s great, and then the crowd tastes it, and it’s not very good. You’re more disappointed than they are,” Gene said.
The festival is full of amazing food, fun activities and great music. There is always something for everyone at the festival, organizers say. It is organized by Madison Area Chamber of Commerce and serves as fundraiser for dozens of nonprofits in the community.
Last year, the event paid out more than $35,000, which was the best yet, according to Lindsay Bloos, the chamber’s executive director. The festival has more than doubled in size, and ticket sales have grown by more than $16,000 in the last four years, she said.
Butts-N-Racks is definitely a unique name and has people wondering where the name came from.
“We discussed and discussed it, and had several different ideas, and then I just threw the name out there and we just settled on that,” Gene said. “You can take it how you want to take it – rack of ribs and pork butts, or the other way. Unfortunately, now this day and age, sex sells, and with that innuendo open, people buy it.”

Photo courtesy of the Madison Chamber

Butts-N-Racks team includes Gene and Brent Copeland of Madison, Ind.

While Gene is known for making the pulled pork, Brent is known for the famous chili. The chili was originally a family recipe but having been adjusted over time, it’s gotten better throughout the years. Now with some tweaking and some different recipes, they hope they have a chance to win first place.
“Being apart of a competition, you’re trying to make sure you get everything so that people enjoy it,” Brent said. “You don’t want any bit to be off. You want it perfect the whole time. But it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Their booth consists of all family. The brothers usually have their backs to the crowd the whole time constantly cooking. They stay busy once it starts and stay pretty busy throughout the whole festival.
“My favorite part is the music, but unfortunately you can’t hear much of it since we are cooking the whole time,” Brent said.
One down side with being part of the competitors, they don’t get to experience all the events and activities that happen during this event, but still is a good time for them.

Photo provided

Butts-N-Racks are pictured in action at last year’s event.

“It has a great crowd and great atmosphere,” Gene said. “The weather is always pretty nice, but not too hot. It’s nice seeing all the people and how it grows every year.”

The Madison Area Chamber of Commerce is still accepting application for food and sponsor booths for this year’s festival. Booths are open to businesses and non-profit organizations. Forms and information are available at the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, 301 E. Main St., or online at: www.madisonsoupstew.com. More information can be found at Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew Festival page on Facebook.

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