New Mexico festival celebrates Hatch peppers

07/03/2013 03:17:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

The Hatch Chile Festival is intended to be a tribute to all the hard work local growers put into their crops.

“It’s a celebration of all the hard work and effort they put into planting and caring for seeds, for their sweat and labor, and then for the chili, which is so delicious,” said event organizer Tina Cabrales.

This year, the festival is set for Aug. 31 through Sept. 1, and admission is $5 per carload, according the website.

According to Cabrales, the festival began in the 1970s as a way for growers to gather and sell their chilies.

“It was basically a farmers market,” she said.

Now, the festival includes more activities than just shopping, although chili peppers and chili products are still at the forefront.

“Farmers still take their products there, and they roast and sell Hatch chilies as well as red chili ristras. And we have lots of vendors with chili meals,” Cabrales said.

This year, the festival will be a bit different than in years past.

There will be chili cooking competitions, based on red chilies one day and green chilies the next day. Guests can taste these creations, which follows the year’s theme of A Taste of Hatch, according to Cabrales.

There also will be two dances, live music, games and contest, including a chili eating contest.

Another festival favorite is the crowning of the Hatch Chili Queen.

“Throughout the year, the queen attends festivals and events throughout the state. They are an ambassador for Hatch farmers. She passes out pamphlets and has various media appearances,” Cabrales said.

Cabrales says the festival helps people celebrate the Hatch chili, which the locals feel a sense of pride about.

“I think the Hatch chili is important to people because it represents how we got out name. It put us on the map,” Cabrales said.



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