A festival for a pepper? Only in Pueblo.
The popular Loaf "˜N Jug Chile & Frijoles Festival occurs every September on the third weekend following Labor Day.
Approximately 100,000 spectators pack Union Avenue annually to celebrate the wide array of chile peppers that are grown in the Pueblo area.
"Each year the farmers plant nearly 300 acres of chilies and close to 500 acres of frijoles," says Juls Bayci, communications director for the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce. "While it's hard to say if the advent of the Chile & Frijoles Festival has caused farmers to increase that acreage, one thing is for sure; the festival has definitely increased the awareness of Pueblo's chile crop throughout the region and state, thus increasing the demand."
The Pueblo chamber, in partnership with El Pueblo History Museum, started the chile festival in 1994 to salute the impact that chile peppers have in the city and county. Festival activities include live music, cooking competitions, a 5K run, ethnic dancers, performing and visual arts, and a children's zone.
"Lots of great Pueblo restaurants and caterers are represented, and one of the competitions allows anyone in town to enter their best salsa," Bayci says. "The festival continues to attract visitors from throughout Colorado and neighboring states as the trend toward heritage tourism grows."