Record breaking 12,000 pack Bowers for Chile Pepper Fest

Photo by Carl Hess An estimated 11,000 to 12,000 people attended the 18th annual Chile Pepper Food Festival at Bowers Park Sept. 6 and 7.

A record 11 to 12 thousand people delved into the spicy world of the Chile Pepper in Bowers Sept. 6 and 7.

The 18th Annual Bowers Chile Pepper Food Festival at Bill DeLong Memorial Park featured 93 vendors from all over the U.S. and numerous local entertainment acts, as well as a Salsa Contest and Jalapeno Pepper Eating Contest.

The most ever (in attendance and vendor participation), event organizers Chris Markey and John Bixler told The Patriot.

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The festival has roots in Hot Pepper Field Day during which locals picked their own peppers at James Weavers Meadow View Farm in Bowers. Weaver began planting peppers on his farm in 1994 for himself and his friend Markey. This led to the Hot Pepper Field Day. Two years later in 1996, Markey and Bixler created the Bowers Chile Pepper Food Festival in coordination with field excursions. Horse drawn wagons transport chile pepper festival attendees between the festival and Meadow View Farm at no charge.

Markey and Bixler hope attendees gained from their festival experiencean appreciation of various ethnic foods.

They credit the events success this year to the interest in chile peppers and their many uses and the weather.

You couldnt have asked for better weather for this years edition of the Bowers Chile Pepper Festival, reported photographer Carl Hess. The popular festival continues to grow and this year there were 21 new vendors bringing the total up to 93 vendors scattered throughout the picturesque park.

Vendors sold everything from clothing and crafts to freshly picked produce to chile pepper inspired dishes from sauces to stuffed smoked peppers,

Friday was the 5th Annual Salsa Contest and on Saturday was the Jalapeno Pepper Eating Contest.

Musical entertainment was provided by Acoustic Road Show which showcased local musicians both Friday and Saturday. New for 2013 was an open jammers tent on both days.