Old Town Gets Spicy with the Return of the Hatch Chile Festival
Fall may be in the air, but the temperature is rising when the annual Hatch Chile Festival returns to Old Town Temecula on September 17th and 18th.
Though there are many types of chile peppers, the Hatch chile is specific to the Hatch Valley of New Mexico and is the signature vegetable of the state. Hosted by Chile Hedz in Old Town Temecula, a popular retailer of hot sauces and other spicy culinary delights, the Hatch Chile Festival celebrates its namesake produce.
“The Hatch chile is a perfectly cultivated chile pepper that is only produced in New Mexico,” said Raquel Anthony, who, with her husband John, owns and operates Chile Hedz. “It is a staple in the region and eaten year-round, usually with all three meals.”
Though the Hatch chile is common in southwest dining, it is often hard to come by in other parts of the country. Temecula’s festival brings in Hatch chile enthusiasts from all over the west for the opportunity to enjoy the unique delicacy.
The weekend heats up on Saturday, September 17th at 11:00 am, with sales and roasting of over 10,000 Hatch chiles will commence. Lines usually begin forming as early as 8:00 am. If not sold out, sales will continue through Sunday, September 18th at 6:00 pm.
“People come from all over to buy our Hatch chile because they know the value in our farm fresh produce. We are farm to table in less than three days,” Anthony said. “People know this chile is only harvested once a year, in the fall, and so they stock up during the festival, to last them until the next harvest.”
In addition to chile sales, the Hatch Chile Festival includes activities and entertainment for the whole family including bounce houses, lasso demonstrations with steer heads, coloring contests and more. Food and drink vendors will be on hand and live music will take the stage every hour on the hour.
Though no longer cohosted by the City of Temecula, Anthony promises this year’s outing will be the same great experience had at Hatch Chile Festivals past.
“Unfortunately, due to some recent staff changes, we lost some city support of our growing festival but, this year, we are ready to go and, as we grow, we hope to gain some new sponsors in the years ahead,” she said.
Although it’s a fairly new tradition in Old Town Temecula, the Anthony’s hope the Hatch Chile Festival will evoke the feeling of historic New Mexican heritage.
“Although not large, this festival is unique because it’s like a big family reunion,” Anthony said. “It brings New Mexicans together from all over Southern California to share stories of their hometowns, their family history, and even exchange recipes. There is nothing like the smell of a roasted chile to bring a little bit of home to our local New Mexicans.”
For more information on the Hatch Chile Festival, visit the Chile Hedz website at www.temeculahotsauce.com.