PUEBLO, Colorado — You can't roast Pueblo chiles without two key elements; fire and water. Yet getting fuel for those roasters at this year's Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival meant moving the Farmers Market away from its traditional home near the Sister Cities Plaza at the intersection of Grand and Union Avenues.
The new location was a parking lot a couple hundred feet due south.
"It wasn't our choice to move it," said Donielle Kitzman of the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce.
She explained the propane vendor for the event couldn't get insurance to continue serving the farmers unless the tanks were properly spaced out, and there wasn't enough room near the plaza to make that happen.
The different location, while nearby, still caught a number of festival-goers off-guard.
"I was stopped by a couple of people at the corner, and we had a huge sign that said 'Chiles' with an arrow, and they were like, where's the chiles," Kitzman said.
The flat parking lot had the extra benefit of more space. The public could now wander the roasters market with a little more elbow room even when there were long lines of customers.
But the second element of chile roasting, the water, proved problematic in this new space.
"There was a lot of flooding down on our end," said Joey Musso of Musso Farms. "I don't know if it was as bad in other places but I know it was down by our tent and the Milberger tent and the DiTomaso tent."
When the roasting tents were set in middle of the street, the farmers had the benefit of using city gutters and storm drains to keep the area clear. The city-owned parking lot has drainage features, but a couple of low spots kept filling up with water. Kitzman said work crews were dispatched to help sweep the water away.
Wet shoes didn't seem to keep too many customers away.
"I believe our sales were better this year than they were in the years past," said Shane Milberger of Milberger Farms. "I've not heard the final numbers yet, but judging by the people that were there, I think they had more people than they did last year."
Kitzman said the number of complementary golf cart trips carrying customers and their chiles to the car more than doubled 2018 numbers.
While final attendance is still being tabulated, some key indicators suggest it was a strong year.
"I'm thinking we surpassed it just from the amount of trash, cups, security reports, those types of things," Kitzman said.