The annual Chile and Frijole Festival provided more than 100,000 people with a variety of chile, music, shopping and entertainment, in Pueblo, Sept. 23 through Sept. 25.
The festival began as a harvest celebration of Pueblo’s native chile, the Mira Sol chile, 17 years ago but has become the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s way of ending the summer season.
Although the Mira Sol chile is the main focus of the event, local farms also grow Anaheim, Fresnos and jalapeno peppers that they also sell at the festival. Local farmers sold around $50,000 worth of peppers throughout the weekend, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
“Every year the farmers plant nearly 300 acres of chiles and close to 500 acres of frijoles annually,” said Juls Bayci, communications director for the Chamber.
The Mira Sol chiles are known for their distinct, full-bodied flavor. The word “mirasol,” is literally interpreted in Spanish as “looking at the sun,” which is due to the chiles’ upward growth, according to the Mira Sol Chile Corporation. The corporation began in 1997 as a collective organization of 14 farmers who grow the native chile on the St. Charles’s Mesa, located east of Pueblo.
The festival had approximately 170 vendors showcasing their unique items of food, clothing, antiques, and arts, according to a Chamber representative, as well as a surplus in locally grown chile of different shapes, sizes, origins and flavors.
One highlight of the event is the red and green chile contests, as well as the salsa competition, among local businesses and amateurs. First place in the green chile division went to Cinfully Delicious, with Nana’s restaurant taking second place and Desert Hawk, the restaurant at the Pueblo West Golf Course, coming in third.
First place in the red chile division went to City Diner and second place went to The Blende Eatery. Third place went to Spit Fire Grill, who also placed first in the salsa competition.
Other vendors created foods that played with the use of chile as an ingredient, such as chocolate cupcakes with jalapeno frosting, green chile brownies and jalapeno fettuccini. Another local favorite item at the festival was the chile wrap, which is a hot Pueblo chile wrapped in a cheese filled tortilla.
The three-day event also featured traditional Indian dancers, local bands and a jalapeno eating contest.
In addition to the competitions, food, dance and other entertainment venues, those on Union Avenue, Sept. 24, were greeted by a pink flash mob that was organized by the St. Mary-Corwin Health Foundation. The foundation organized the flash mob in order to raise awareness for breast health, as well as the $1.5 million campaign launched this summer to bring a Breast Center of Excellence to Pueblo.