Residents who were looking forward to tasting spicy food in the annual Chile in October Challenge need not be disappointed.
The challenge was unable to proceed as usual this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the Farmington Chamber of Commerce created an event spanning 10 days that it hopes will satisfy those who choose to participate.
In the past, the challenge was an outdoor event where both restaurants and home chefs could compete to see who had the best chile. Jamie Church, president and CEO of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, said last year attracted 22 competitors and nearly 1,000 residents.
This year, anyone who wants to participate can pick up a “passport” at one of the 10 participating restaurants or print it online. The passport features the 10 participating restaurants and is also how people can submit their votes. Participants are asked to visit at least half of the participating restaurants where they can sample the vendors’ chile submissions.
A purchase is not necessary to sample the chile, but Church hopes participants will support the restaurants they visit, as restaurants have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 restrictions. Participants can vote on the best chile by dropping off their passport at any of the participating restaurants or online.
Church said part of the hope of the altered format was to encourage people to visit restaurants they’ve never been to before. As a result, the chamber did not limit submissions to just red or green chile.
“If it’s got any kind of chile in it, even Thai chile, it’s fair game for this year,” Church said.
Included in the submissions are frozen yogurt, a mocha and a cocktail.
Church said the chamber wanted to ensure the altered event was accessible for residents, which is why the event started Oct. 14 and ends Saturday.
Upcoming eventsThe Farmington Chamber of Commerce will continue to host events in altered formats to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. This year’s Women’s Summit, a conference focusing on women’s professional and personal development, will be held over Zoom on Nov. 5. Last year, it was a sold-out event.
Church said the one positive aspect of holding a virtual event is participants and speakers are able to join from anywhere. Church was particularly excited this year’s keynote speaker, author Sarah Swindell, will be able to join from her home in Texas.
“It’s only the second year of the chamber doing this. Last year, it was a sold-out event and we heard nothing but positive feedback,” Church said. “We wanted to build on the success of last year, so we’re doing a virtual event.”
Church also said there were a number of participants from Durango and Bayfield last year who she hopes will participate virtually this year.