By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jan 07, 2014 at 1:16 PM Photography:

It's just the hot, spicy news polar vortex-menaced Milwaukee needed.

WMSE 91.7  announced the return of the Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser, Sunday, March 2 at the Kern Center, 1245 N. Broadway, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. 2014 marks the 12th year of the fundraiser, which last year brought in over 3,000 hungry attendees. 

Thanks to the increasing attendance numbers, this year's iteration has expanded to include both the first floor gymnasium and the second floor field house.

With the event's growth comes an increase in activity options. The children's area introduced last year – run by Artists Working in Education – has expanded, and WMSE will run three chili pepper races (think the Miller Park sausage races but, you know, with chili peppers) throughout the day on the Kern Center's second floor field house track.

This year's Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser will also include participation from a combination of six Milwaukee Fire Department firehouses and operation centers. The MFD houses' chili will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges, who will be announced later in February.

Then there's the meat of the matter: the chili competition, setting 50 Milwaukee restaurants, cafes and caterers against one another to determine the city's best chili. There are five different categories: best meat, best vegetarian, most unique chili, best vendor display/presentation and, of course, best heat. Event attendees vote on the winners.

Some of the confirmed chili vendors include Simple Cafe, Outpost Natural Foods, Cafe Lulu, G-Daddy's BBC, Brewed Cafe and many more. A full list of vendors will be announced Jan. 27. 

Tickets for the Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser go on sale online or at WMSE's studios, 820 N. Milwaukee St., Friday, Jan. 10 at noon. Advance tickets are $12 and come with four chili sample tickets, while day-of tickets are $15 and come with two chili sample tickets. Children 10 and under are free. Additional chili sample tickets are $1 at the event. Bring two or more non-perishable food items to donate to the Hunger Task Force, and you will receive two additional sample tickets.

So next time you head outside and your face starts freezing off, think of the warm front of spicy chili action coming to town in March. Maybe it'll help. Maybe. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.