One of Pueblo’s largest festivals is filling up fast
One of Pueblo’s most lucrative festivals is still six weeks away, but for those who wish to attend the window to look for room and board is rapidly closing.
“We fill all of our hotels for the weekend,” said the President of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce Rod Slyhoff. “Usually they start to fill up on Thursday and by Friday you can’t get a hotel room. It’s estimated that the economic impact to Pueblo for the three-day festival is somewhere over $3 million dollars.”
The Chile and Frijoles Festival in downtown Pueblo takes place September 22-24 with vendors lining the streets of the Union Avenue Historic District. According to Slyhoff who in his 23rd year as President of the Greater Chamber of Commerce is overseeing his 23rd Chile and Frijoles Festival, even the chile experts from New Mexico make the trip north to try their neighbors wares.
“Of course we roast a lot of chili peppers and people come from all over the state,” said Slyhoff. Even people from New Mexico come up and buy Pueblo chiles.”
Now in its 23rd year, the festival is not only one of the city’s biggest festivals, but also Southern Colorado’s passage to autumn. With primary sponsor Loaf ‘N Jug and the full backing of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, the Chile and Frijoles Festival welcomes thousands of visitors from around the state and the Mountain West region as they pay homage to two of the area’s most loved crops – Pueblo chiles and frijoles.
“We’ll end up with 180 vendors in the festival and about 40-45 food vendors,” said Slyhoff. “There are five beer gardens and entertainment venues and there will be over 50 different acts on those stages throughout the Chile Festival weekend.”
The festivities begin on September 22 at 3 p.m. and run until midnight with music, arts and crafts, cooking competitions and, of course, an array of local chiles. Since the festival is a celebration of one of the city and county’s most beloved crops, Slyhoff added that the entertainment is kept local as well to highlight that side of Pueblo.
“Because we are celebrating the harvest of the Pueblo chile – which is a chili pepper that is unique to Pueblo and Pueblo County – we also have for our musical entertainment all local acts,” he said. “Pueblo is fortunate to have some very high-quality local bands, so we feature them on our stages.”
Those traveling from around the state and region, will be delighted to find events based on Pueblo’s sister cities as well, including Chihuahua and Puebla, Mexico as well as Weifang, China, Bergamo, Italy, Lucca Sicula, Sicily and Maribor, Slovenia.
Of the most popular sister city events, according to Slyhoff, is the Chihuahua parade.
“It started two years ago and is very, very popular,” Slyhoff said. “It’s done by our Sister City Commission here in Pueblo and one of our sister cities is Chihuahua, Mexico. People bring their Chihuahua dogs and they are usually dressed up in costume and they have a little parade. They give out prizes. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Chihuahua parade is one of the main attractions on Saturday, when the event also has its longest run time from 10 am to midnight. Another Saturday event also thrown together by the Pueblo Sister City Commission is a beer festival that features brews from Pueblo’s sister cities.
“[The event] features beers from those cities to draw attention to our sister city,” Slyhoff said. “It is an activity that has been picking up steam the last couple years and people really enjoy it.”
Competitions are also a priority during the festival weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, the Pueblo Convention Center will host the Chili and Salsa Showdown, while Sunday’s main event – the Jalapeño Eating Contest – takes place at 4 p.m.
The Chile and Frijoles Festival begins September 22 at 3 p.m. and runs through September 24 to 6 p.m. For more information visit www.festival.pueblochamber.org.