The Hatch Chile Festival
A Visit to the Chile Capital of the World!
Hatch is located in the fertile Rio Grande River valley. The abundant New Mexico
sunshine and irrigation water from the Rio Grande River combine to
produce lush crops of cotton, corn, vegetables, and of course, chile
peppers. "Hatch Chile" is not actually a variety of pepper, but is a term
used to describe peppers of several different varieties grown in the area.
Actual variety names might include "Big Jim", "Joe Parker", "Sandia", and
others. Green Chile is King at the beginning of the season, made
into rellenos, enchiladas and stews. Later, the peppers ripen and turn red
and are dried to be made into that delicious red chile sauce that flavors
a multitude of dishes that will keep you warm all winter!
is about 40 miles North of Las Cruces, up Interstate 25, or about
2 hours South of Albuquerque. If you're arriving early, the
traffic may be heavy along the main street into town, in
anticipation of the Festival parade, which usually takes place
about 10 a.m. on Saturday. If it's your first visit to Hatch you
may be surprised at how small a town it really is - only about
2,000 residents...except on Labor Day weekend!
Everything in the village is about chile this weekend.
In years past, most of the chile vendors sold their wares at the
Festival, but recently, whether due to festival fees or regulations,
many have chosen to stay in town and sell their chile. As a result,
the town scene is quite lively, with numerous shops also offering
chile-related souvenirs as well as chile powders and other items of
After the parade there's usually a traffic jam getting out of town
heading for the festival grounds, a couple of miles away, so it's a
good opportunity to walk around, check out the vendors, and smell some
green chiles roasting, just to whet your appetite!
Admission to the Festival is $20 per
carload, good for both days.
Bring sunscreen and a hat. It's not a "walk around with a beer" event,
although they do have a "beer garden" if you care to sit in a cage to
have a beer. (We recommend one of the cool refreshing Agua Fresca
drinks which are always on hand.)
As you enter the Festival grounds, you will immediately
smell that unique aroma of roasting green chile. The roasters go
non-stop all day. Most vendors will let you taste their chile
before buying. Some offer either "Hot", Mild", or "Medium"
heat, but tasting is really the only way to tell what you are
getting, and even then, sometimes peppers in the same bag have
Green chile prices are pretty much fixed for all the vendors at the
If you like to haggle , consider buying your chile
back in town, where the vendors are a little more open to
bargaining. Also, in recent years fewer vendors have set up at the
Festival, so some years there's a better selection of chile back
Continue your walk around the grounds, take in the arts and
crafts, then check out the food vendors and decide what looks
good...green chile cheeseburgers, gorditas,enchiladas, burritos,
etc. etc. Food lines are probably getting pretty long by now, so
you may want to stake out a place in line at the booth of your
choice. Sometimes the vendors have a little trouble keeping up,
so be patient. If the kids get bored, there's a carnival with a
few rides and games.
Inside in the shade, by now this year's Chile Queen may have been crowned,
there's more arts and crafts, and a sit-down dining area and
beer garden. Local artists display their works, this year's
Festival T-shirt is on sale, and the day's entertainment lineup
may already be underway. While there is a published schedule of
acts and events, it's pretty flexible and always subject
The Festival goes on for both days of the Labor Day weekend.
Usually there are local Mariachi and Ballet Folklorico dance
groups, and a Western band. Between acts there are some Fun and
Games activities like a Chile Toss and Chile Eating Contest.
Seating usually fills up fast, and a lot of folks will spend all
afternoon in the shade of the barn watching the entertainment.
We like to sit a while, but generally are drawn back outdoors to
where the" Chile Action" is! It's time to select whatever we
plan to buy.
Green chile is normally sold in 30-40 pound burlap bags. If you live
nearby, you'll probably want to get them roasted. We take our roasted
peppers home,separate them into small bags and freeze them right
away. (Small lots of green chile can be roasted at home, go HERE
Red chile is available either as a Ristra of fresh peppers, or as
fully dried pods. If you buy a fresh ristra to use in cooking, take
it home and hang it in a dry location until the pods are fully
dried. There are some recipes using fresh red pods, but the rich
flavor of red chile doesn't really develop until the peppers are
dried. If you are new to cooking with dried chile, go
instructions on how to proceed.
TO THE CORONAVIRUS, THE HATCH FESTIVAL WILL NOT BE HELD THIS YEAR.