New Mexico Chile Festival Survival Guide: Great tips and ideas to make your journey memorable

New Mexico Chile Festival Survival Guide: Great tips and ideas to make your journey memorable

The fall season in New Mexico is like no other in the world. From the captivating color change of the Aspens to the seasonal growers markets bearing fresh fruit and roasted chile, fall is special here. Every weekend from mid-August through the end of October will be filled with traditional festivals, open markets and all celebrating the great New Mexico Harvest.

It is easy to track the many options and venues to visit, however it is very important that you and your family are prepared for the many nuances that will surely be a part of your preparation and ultimate enjoyment. Let's review some tips on making the most of fall festivals in New Mexico. 

Viva New Mexico Chile Festival - Kristy Graybill

The Basics 

Fall harvest temperatures can fluctuate, so it's important to wear loose-fitting clothing, sun block and a great hat as experience out in the field may leave you without shade for long periods of time. Also be prepared with a poncho in case rain hits. In New Mexico, a rainshower doesn't mean the end of the day. The sun may be back out in ten minutes. 

Footwear  

Be prepared with not only a comfortable pair of shoes, but also a backup pair (you'll thank me later). Pumpkin patches and the Chile fields are lined with very course alfalfa that is cut at a length that hits right above where your socks end ("Just how they do it."). The tractor that cuts the alfalfa can cause deep ruts, especially after monsoon rain. Good shoes, leggings or pants will enhance the comfort and ward off the unusually large mosquitos that enjoy you more than you know. Sun Block or a high number broad spectrum sun screen combined with bug spray is a must, especially for the kids.

Note: Clogs, High heels, wedges, pumps; flip flops are cool, (accept the clogs), but are not recommended.

Extras
The advanced seeker of all things Chile will need an advanced and more dedicated strategy to accomplish the seasonal journey of happiness and joy. Bringing a large (empty) ice chest will allow the fresh, flame roasted Chiles to sweat and stay warm until you arrive at the Chile peeling party. The peeling party is the post-festival party that usually involves adult beverages, fresh garlic, and Ranchero music.

Don't forget to pick up enough pumpkins, squash and fresh herbs while on your journey. This is peak season and the pricing is always the best of the year.

Chile Happenings
It is really exciting to see the many options for everyone to enjoy in our community. While some great harvest festivals like the Hatch Valley Chile Festival and the Wildlife West Nature Park Harvest Festival have already past, there are plenty coming up to catch: 

  • September 5-7, 2014: The VIVA New Mexico Chile Festival in Las Lunas has a great Chile Maize, full schedule of entertainment, fresh harvest goodies and easy access from the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train.
  • September 13, 2014: 10th Annual Old Town Salsa Fiesta. This vibrant Old Town festival celebrates all things salsa. From salsa bands and dancers, to homemade salsa contests that celebrate our state's excellent cuisine.  
  • September 14, 2014: Urban Farm and Harvest Festival at Albuquerque Open Space. The theme of this year's event is "Preserving the Harvest," so you can learn how to preserve and enjoy your fall fruits, vegetables and herbs throughout the year. 
  • September 27-28, 2014: Corrales Harvest Festival. This two-day celebration is packed with activities to celebrate autumn. Don't miss the opportunity to head out to Wagner's Farm for some fresh produce. 
  • October 15, 2014: Hops & Harvest Festival. This annual fundraiser for the Downtown Growers Market will feature music from the Squash Blossom Boys, Porter Draw and Three String Bale. The proceeds from the event help benefit the market that we all know and love.
  • Ongoing: Checkout some of these fun growers markets around Albuquerque, including the Los Ranchos Growers Market (which features the best sweet corn in the state).

Some of the best stories of the year come from the fall harvest. Maybe it's the smell of fresh roasting Chile, or just being grateful that we live in the most enchanted place in America.  Take the time to plan your day and you will not be disappointed. 


Jim
Jim Garcia is a 40-year food service veteran. He is an expert on everything related to tequila and chile.
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