I believe chiles make the world go round. So Pueblo Chile & Frijole Festival has been on my list for almost as long as the festival has been running. This year, their 25th anniversary, I finally made to the fest, and believe it or not, it was my first time in Pueblo.
I am going to write about our amazing farm tour with Frontier Pathways Scenic Byways in the future. It’s not timely as harvest season is drawing to a close, so I will wait until leaf-peeping is over, the snow is gone and we’re all longing for green growing things again. However, know that Frontier Pathways does a number of Heritage Tours throughout the year including Cowboys to Castles, a Pueblo Legacy Tour and more.
Pueblo is along the Arkansas River, a river that once was the dividing line between the United States and Mexico. Today, Pueblo is the Gateway to the Southwest and rightly so. It has a distinctly southwestern flair, although I would say it has a vibe all its own.
By the way, this current “fight” between New Mexico and Colorado about who has the best green chiles is kind of silly when you realize the history. Quite frankly, I am an equal opportunity chile eater and do not discriminate against any chile, New Mexican or Coloradan.
Pueblo Chile & Frijole Festival is a good way to discover Pueblo, but we do want to go back when the city is a little less busy. The town bursts at the seams during the three-day event that can attract up to 150,000 chile lovers. In fact, if you want to book a hotel room for the festival, book ahead of time because hotels fill up.
The air in Pueblo smells of roasting chiles and frying meat during the event. Every which way you turn there is taco meat sizzling on a grill. Of course, green chile wraps are sold nearly everywhere (that’s a green chile and cheese wrapped in a tortilla). Historic downtown becomes a sea of vendors selling everything from antiques to ristas (hanging chili wreaths).
The chile roasters come from farms around the region and are located in one area which is different than in past years. Here, you can buy fresh produced and of course, roasted green chiles. Watching the green chiles turn in the roaster is a bit of a spiritual experience for a chile lover like me. I wish I could make the video below post scratch and sniff because I think roasting chiles is the best smell in the world.
There are a lot of stages at this festival for bands and culinary demonstrations and each with its own bar where patrons can buy beer and wine. The festival is really big. It must take a large village to staff the event.
I love culinary demonstrations so I was more than ready for the seminars by the Culinary Arts at Pueblo Community College during Chile & Frijole fest. I’ve always thought that sitting through a culinary demo is the closest I will get to being on a show like Rachel Ray or a show on Food Network.
I won’t lie though, the number one reason I like going to culinary demos is that I get samples of what the chef is cooking, and these seminars are no exception. We got to taste everything from green chile cornbread to candied red chiles.
I’d highly recommend attending one of these culinary demonstrations during the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival. They are fun, educational and yummy. Plus, I actually learned a lot about cooking with green chiles and this culinary program including upcoming events like the school’s Grand Buffet on October 20.
We ate one meal at the festival and of course, we had tacos. I could have eaten a ton more at the festival but we also went to several restaurants while in town. Pueblo has a strong Italian presence so we have to go back to have Italian food but we ate Mexican and we even ate at a steakhouse but I’ll get to that in a later post.
Congratulations to Pueblo Chile & Frijole Festival for receiving the 2019 Outstanding Community Tourism Initiate Award at this year’s Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference.