Hatch chile festival sees increase in chile fanatics

Updated: Sunday, August 31 2014, 09:12 PM MDT
Hatch chile festival sees increase in chile fanatics story image

By Patrick Hayes
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – More than 10,000 chile fanatics from all across the country spiced their holiday weekend by attending the 43rd annual Hatch Chile Festival.

The festival is held 1 mile west of Hatch near the Hatch Municipal Airport.  The two-day event ended on Sunday with chile-eating contests and live entertainment.

Anita Kelly is a corporate events manager and organized the event.  She told KFOX14, “We’re expecting more than double of the people we had last year.”

Kelly estimated more than 18,000 chile loves attended the festival.

Lisa Contreras drove all the way from Phoenix to buy her year supply of chile.  “I make sure I buy enough to last me the whole year,” she said.  “I use them for making my salsa and green chili; put them in my freezer and I’m a happy lady.”
Among the dozens of vendors was Juan Morales, the president of the Santa Fe Grill. 

Morales said he uses about 2,000 pounds of chiles every two weeks and that’s just for his burritos.  He said uses Hatch-grown chiles in a lot of his recipes.

Morales said, “There’s something about Hatch.  Hatch is unique because of the mountains, the valley; the minerals give the best chile in the world.”
Meanwhile, vendors like Delia Bueno said they’ve been roasting chiles nonstop since Saturday. 

She said most of the farming for her chiles is done by her nephew Alex Salazar, who she says is following in his grandfather’s footsteps. 

Farmers also told KFOX14 it’s been an active monsoon season in southern New Mexico.  They said some farmers experienced harvesting setbacks but their crops and the festival were not affected. 

Hatch chile festival sees increase in chile fanatics
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