Tucson's Heirloom Farmers Markets are heating up next weekend in honor of the chile pepper. The 12th Annual Chile Festival will celebrate spicy in a way that only the Sonoran desert can around this time of year. That's because, as summer nears a close here, the chiles that were growing out in high temperatures all season are at their peak flavor, heat and carry a vibrant red color that's alluring as much as it is a warning.
According to the Heirloom Farmers Markets, Arizona grows about 6,000 acres of chiles, which are valued at an estimated $10 million. Didn't teach you that in the 5 C's, did they?
Well, you can indulge in all of the tear-inducing, mouth-watering, nose-running goodness next weekend during the three-day, three-location event. On Friday, Sept. 11, the festival kicks off at Trail Dust Town (6541 E. Tanque Verde Road). Then on Saturday, Sept. 12, Oro Valley Farmers Market (11000 N. La Cañada) picks up the chile torch. Finally, Rillito Park Farmers Market (4502 N. First Ave.) will finish up the fest on Sunday, Sept. 13.
What sets these three days apart from typical farmers market days is first and foremost what the vendors bring to their tables. For this event you can expect all things chile, including roasted green chiles, chile spices, tamales, salsas and many other spicy treats. The final event will also feature a market cooking demonstration from chef Ryan Clark of Agustin Kitchen.