Scott Roberts – Chilli Letter from America #9

by Hot Juan on August 22, 2010 · 0 comments

in News

Scott Roberts

We’re in the middle of the “dog days” of summer, where sweltering temperatures grip a bulk of the United States with its tyrranical claws. The weather is not the only thing that’s getting hot in this country; we’re entering the heart of hot sauce and chile pepper festival season here. Even though the biggest summer event, ZestFest, has been postponed until Winter, we still have the recently transpired Weekend of Fire and the Toronto Hot & Spicy Food festival (the later, of course, taking place in Ontario, Canada); plus upcoming in later August and September are the I Like it Hot Festival in Florida; the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival in Austin, Texas; the National Buffalo Wing Festival in Buffalo, New York; the Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch, New Mexico; the Chile Pepper Food Festival in Bowers, Pennsylvania; the Houston Hot Sauce Festival in Houston, Texas, and the North Carolina Hot Sauce Festival in Oxford, North Carolina.

Open Fields

Jim Campbell - Opens Fields

Jim Campbell - Opens Fields

A smaller-scale but still notable event that has been taking place every September is called Open Fields. It’s been hosted by firefighter and sauce maker Jim Campbell, and is held on his chile pepper farms in central Indiana. These chile fields once provided a large segment of the U.S. specialty hot sauce market its pepper mash in the 1990s and early 2000s, with customers like CaJohns, Blair’s, Dave’s Gourmet and others.

Open Fields is a by-invite-only, non-commercial, weekend event where chileheads can visit as long as they like (some visit for only a few hours, others camp outside overnight), and enter ametuer hot sauce and salsa contests, visit and share recipes with fellow flame fans, and pick as many chile pods as they would like to take home. Campbell has his “hobby patch” in which he grows dozens and dozens of lesser-found peppers, ranging from the flavorful and mild to the super hot.

Unfortunately due to Campbell’s increasingly bust schedule, this will be the last year of the event, so the hardcore chileheads in the Midwestern America are urged to make the trip to this.

Weekend of Fire Recap

The 4th Annual Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire Hot Sauce Show in Fairfield, Ohio was a great success. Attendence numbers doubled last year’s, and many of the booth vendors I talked to said their sales followed suit.

The additional spicy eating contests were also a smash. Among them were the Spicy Peanut Butter and Jelly Smackdown, a Bhut Jolokia Brownie Buster Brawl, a Spicy Ice Cream contest, a pungent Hot Horseradish showdown, and the main event of the weekend, Defcon’s Deathmatch Wing Eating Championship.

Diary and Recap

Defcon Deathmatch National Wing Eating Championship Video

Bloggers Roundtable

One highlight of the Weekend of Fire was the Bloggers Roundtable. Although the chile and hot sauce bloggers and product reviewers have often seen each other at fiery food events for years, this was the first time any of us have gotten together to formally talk about hot food and spicy products, as well as the art and science of reviewing them. This was great fun to participate in, and subsequent discussions amongst bloggers are already in the works.



Danny Cash Fallen Angel Jolokia Ghost Wing Sauce

Tony Legner’s Cat 5 Hot Sauce Food Polish

Splash Chipotle Hot Sauce

Scovilla’s Dragonfire Sauces – Beast Killer, Number One, Ultra Blast and End of Time
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