AZTEC — People with a penchant for green chile can get all they can eat, see or smell this weekend at the fifth annual Green Chile Festival at Sutherland Farms in Aztec.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the farm, located 7.5 miles north of Aztec Ruins, at 745 County Road 2900. The festival last year drew between 1,500 and 2,000 people, said D'rese Sutherland, who owns the 80-acre farm with her husband.
Local demand for fresh green chiles keeps the farm in business, Sutherland said.
"We have been growing chiles since opening in the 1990s," she said. "The chile business has grown and we're picking it constantly, all day long, so it's fresh."
Because so many people frequent the farm to buy fresh produce, the Sutherlands decided to host events to attract more people and give them a venue to enjoy music and other activities.
"We like to have events on the farm where people can come out and spend some time," Sutherland said. "We started offering more and more things, and then we decided to have a weekend just for chiles."
This event is a celebration of the harvest season on the farm. Lots of green chile will be roasted and local crafters will be available for shopping. Activities for children also are planned, including barrel train rides, face painting and a play area.
The festival, named in honor of the green chile, celebrates more than the local harvest, said Roshana Moojen, planning director for the city of Aztec.
"From a tourist perspective, New Mexico is infamous for chiles; that's its trademark," Moojen said. "The ability of Aztec to have a unique festival allows us to bring in local residents as well as from other places to promote New Mexico's unique items."
Visitors from surrounding states are expected to join the crowd this weekend to celebrate New Mexico's unique cuisine.
On Saturday, the Purple Cow Kafe will be open for "Dinner at Dusk" from 6 to 8 p.m. Wines of the San Juan will provide wine tasting both days beginning around noon.
Chiles can be spicy or mild, depending on growing and harvesting practices. Aztec has capitalized on the varieties of green chiles available locally, including a green chile ice cream sundae served at Vanilla Moose.
"For a true New Mexican, green chile is the lifeblood," Moojen said. "You put it in with your breakfast food, you have it for dinner and now you even have it in your ice cream."
The weekend festival also features lots of live music: Saturday features High Desert Bluegrass from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Blue Moon Ramblers from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday musicians are Jeff Haspel and Jason Thies from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Forever Growing band, visiting from Oregon, will begin at 2:30 p.m., with a Sunday afternoon jazz session.
Food specials featuring fresh green chile and farm fresh vegetables will be available from the Purple Cow Kafe.
Information: (505) 334-3578.