With more room to spread out under starry skies above, the CASI confab attracts a larger, and looser, crowd. Complete with its own police and fire department and pop-up hospital facility, it has been referred to as “spring break in the desert” and, if only aspirationally, as a kind of Texas Burning Man -- without the burnt hombre. Burning Man’s sharing ethos is alive and well, however, a fact that’s made reference to in more than one biker blog (yes, bikers tend to congregate at this one, and yes, they have blogs too). And if the Terlingua contingent tends toward T-shirts sporting cook-off logos, the CASI crowd turns to costumes as cartoony as chili pods and as racy as modern-day dance hall queens. These folks know how to party. And to that end, both groups feature headliner Texas bands such as the Texas Tornados and Gary P. Nunn -- all in the price of admission, which, at both events, is $40 for the duration.
It seems only right that, with attendance routinely topping 10,000, there’s no room left in local inns. As Tolbert Ryan points out, chili is, after all, the state dish of Texas. If pressed, she might have allowed how, between the two competitions, visitors can experience in one place the best chili the world has to offer--not to mention some pretty damn good ‘cue, a passel of searing salsa, and rip-roarin’ ribs and chicken for days, all while doing a little boot scootin’ and star gazing.