PUEBLO – When it takes more than a day to finish the cleanup, it’s safe to say the 2018 Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival was crazy busy.
“I would say it was wild, not just crazy. More than crazy, it was wild,” said Jordan Aguirre, who was one of about a dozen people using brooms and dustpans Monday to clean the streets and sidewalks of downtown Pueblo.
The official attendance estimate won’t be released for a few more days. Pueblo Chamber of Commerce President Rod Slyhoff said there is one early indicator that suggests this year will set records.
“It’s based on a real glamorous thing, the amount of trash,” he joked. “It was the most trash we ever had so it has to be the biggest.”
Clean up crew members like Aguirre were responsible for removing trash during the event. He said it was so crowded that they struggled to keep up.
“There were people everywhere, we couldn’t get nowhere, we had about 250 totes we had to dump it was just one hard weekend.”
In fact, the Chamber dispatched nearly their whole staff to help Aguirre and the other crew members finish cleaning up on Monday.
Trash isn’t the only indicator of attendance growth. Parking for the event was also challenging. The Midtown Shopping Center, which served as a shuttle lot, reached capacity.
It all points to a bigger question, is the Chile Fest outgrowing its location?
“Honestly, yes,” Slyhoff said. “But it’s got to be in that area, I don’t see how it would work anywhere else.”
He plans to hold next year’s festival in the same location. However, there will be an additional shuttle lot open to help with parking congestion. Slyhoff points out that record-breaking crowds are a good problem to have.
“It’s accomplishing what we set out to do 24 years ago, advance the brand of Pueblo.”