The Pueblo Chamber of Commerce says this year’s Chile and Frijoles Festival set attendance records. An estimated 140,000 to 150,000 people came to the Steel City for the three day event.
“It was absolutely unbelievable. It was the best festival we think that we’ve ever had.,” Chamber President and CEO Rod Slyhoff.
In addition to the strong attendance, food vendors and chile roasters also reported sales that were up from 2014. Even better news for Pueblo, many of the festival patrons came from out of town.
“People tell us that are traveling here from out of town that once they’ve started coming they won’t miss it,” Slyhoff. “It’s a tradition now to come back to celebrate the harvest of the Pueblo Chile.”
“We know we have the best chiles in the country,” said county commissioner Buffie McFadyen. “Especially if you’re into Chile Rellenos, our chile’s are meatier, the skin comes off real easily after they’re fired up in the roaster.”
The county helped the chile farmers to get a $144,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture to create the official Pueblo Chile brand.
“When you buy Chiles in the grocery store and they say Pueblo Chiles, you know for a fact that they’re Pueblo Chiles,” McFadyen said. “With our Colorado sunshine and our Rocky Mountain water we can’t go wrong.”
The Whole Foods grocery chain has already signed up to carry Pueblo Chiles in stores in five western states. The Pueblo Chile Growers Association plans to expand their advertising over the next two years.
“Next year we’re going to expand our brand locally, and then the goal is in the third year of the grant to go more broadly throughout the nation,” McFadyen added.
Even though the festival has wrapped up, there are still plenty of Pueblo Chiles for sale. Members of the Pueblo Chile Growers Association have created a map of their farm stand locations help chile buyers find their way to them.
By Andy Koen, KOAA 5
Photos by Latin Life Denver Event Photography