PUEBLO — The week of the 27th Annual Chile and Frijoles Festival in Pueblo is here, marking its big return since COVID-19 first surfaced.
“It feels great! I mean it’s Chile Festival weekend, it’s Chile season. We’re excited and we’re ready to go," said Shane Milberger, Owner of Milberger Farms.
The Pueblo Chamber of Commerce expects roughly 150,000 people to attend the festival.
Events begin at 3:00 pm on Friday on Union Avenue in Downtown Pueblo.
"There’s a lot of people talking about it, every day I hear somebody talking about it,” said Milberger.
Milberger Farms is getting all of the necessities together to move downtown for their booth.
“We use our roasters daily, we gotta take some of those out of the system and take them downtown. We’ve got pinto beans... We’ve gotta get those ready to go," said Milberger.
Although Milberger Farms is one of the many places around Pueblo struggling with a labor shortage, they say they will have a "sufficient amount" of chile for everyone wanting to buy some.
Just down the road from Milberger Farms at Musso Farms, they will not be participating as vendors at the festival.
*Correction: Some of Musso's family members will not be attending the festival. However, Joe Musso, Carl's father, says he will be at the festival with a booth at the intersection of Union and C Street. He says he has been prepping for two weeks.
However, Musso Farms says their farm stand will stay busy the entire weekend.
“People while they’re in town you know, they go everywhere! Visit and see things and buy other stuff at our market that maybe they didn’t get at the Chile festival," said Carl Musso, Owner of Musso Farms.
Musso Farms took part in the Chile and Frijoles Festival for 19 years, but stopped roughly five years ago.
Musso says his father used to stay back and watch the martketplace, but as he got older Musso says “It started getting busier and busier out here, so I just started to say OK I gotta stay home and take care of what I’ve got here."
Milberger says shopping through Pueblo's local farmers is "the circle of life".
“The circle of life is Pueblo county, stay in Pueblo County, spend your money in Pueblo county, support pueblo county, if you don’t, that circle of life will no longer be,” said Milberger.
Pueblo County Health Department released data exactly one week before the festival, showing the amount of COVID-19 cases in Pueblo County far surpasses the number of cases at the same time last year.
Regardless, no mandates will be put in place according to the health department saying,
The Pueblo Chile and Frijole festival is a great Pueblo tradition. Generally outdoor events are safer than indoor events. If attending the event, participants should consider wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently, and distancing themselves from large crowds. Layered mitigation is effective at reducing the spread of the virus.
For more details about this year's festival and how to purchase tickets, click here.