Hot, Hot, Heat at Chilifest!

by Nikki GardnerChilifest 1

On Sunday, we pulled into the driveway at Mike’s Maze for the third annual Chilifest! The sun shone brilliantly against the backdrop of corn, tents, and bands. Hosted by Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox of The Kitchen Garden, Chilifest! celebrates the noble chili in all varieties, including homegrown exotic peppers, sriracha, salsas, and bowls of spicy stew throughout the two-day festival.

Chilifest 4

Chilifest 5Lonesome Brothers, a jangly bluesy front porch kind of band, was on stage when we arrived. David and the boys signed up for a trek through the maze while I wandered over to the chili tent where I tasted fermented chili sauces (regular and habanero) and a trio of salsas (roasted chili salsa, tomatillo salsa, and peach-habanero salsa) all from The Kitchen Garden. Each one was bold, complex, and worthy of a spot in the kitchen pantry.

I stopped by the tasting table where voting had started for the hot sauce competition. Ranging in color from soft orange to bright red, I was told they were all hot in varying degrees. I tried the mildest varieties then went on to sample roasted chiles from Marc Greene of Montague Chile Roasters.

When the boys finished the maze, the Dire Honeys were playing. David and I split a dark Beastie Rye from The High Horse (Amherst) and jalapeño limeade (my new obsession!) plus a taco plate from The Kitchen Garden. Everything was spot on. We can’t wait for next year.Chilifest 6

If you happened to be at Chilifest! and missed out on the chili, hot sauce, or chiles in a jar competitions, here are the results:

Chilifest 2Chiles in a jar (Guess the number of chiles in the jar) Winner: Jack McDevitt guessed 108 (actual chiles 107)

Chili Cook-Off (11 entries)

People’s Choice - Best Chili: Jeremy Barker-Plotkin, Simple Gifts Farm

Judge’s Choice (Monte Belmonte, O’Brian Tomalin, Lou Ekus, T. Susan Chang)

Best Vegetarian Chili (3 entries)
First Place: Joyce Foster-Fortune, Easy Vegan Chili

Best Meat Chili (8 entries)
First Place: Simple Gifts
Second Place: The Alvah Stone

Chilifest 3Hot Sauce (12 entries)

People’s Choice First Place: Bub’s Wicked Hog Sauce

Judge’s Choice First Place: Eternal Flame 

Best Looking Hot Sauce (Label): Nancy’s Homemade Hot Sauce, Nancy Rapisarda