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San Elizario Chile Fiesta benefits flood victims

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO COUNTY, Texas -- After heavy rain devastated borderland communities more than one month ago, those affected came together for the sixth annual Red and Green Chile War Fiesta in San Elizario Saturday. Organizers had to postpone the event last month due to heavy flooding in the area.

"Our Mission Trail association decided to come back to the roundtable and say we cannot give up on our event. It was pretty difficult for us because we were set to go on September 14 and 15," event co-chair Suky Ramos said.

The chile fiesta is free, but organizers encouraged guests to donate money for flood clean-up in San Elizario, Socorro and Vinton. The Mission Trail Association teamed up with the Salvation Army to start a donation collection tent at the chile fiesta.

Local restaurants and community members entered salsa in "best-tasting" red and green salsa contests, and the event will also hold a salsa dancing contest Sunday.

Chile farmers also sold chiles, chile powder and salsa at the chile fiesta. Like some living in the San Elizario area, flooding affected chile farmer Jesus Soto's family business.

"We get something you call 'pot rot.' The chiles start rotting because there's so much water. We lost maybe close to 20 acres of chile," Soto said.

Despite this, Soto said he and his family are staying positive.

"Our season starts in July. The last week in July and we picked a lot of chiles. So, we did well. We did lose a lot of chile, but we did well at the beginning of the year," Soto said.



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