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AZTEC — The smell of roasting green chiles filled the air as Kimberly Gourneau sat down to a game of checkers against her son at Sutherland Farms on Saturday.

"We were coming from Durango, so we just thought we'd stop by," Gourneau said.

The Shiprock family had heard that the farm located off Ruins Road here was hosting its annual Green Chile Festival. Although they had never before attended the festival, they decided to check it out.

The Sutherland family has been putting on the chile festival for nine years as a way of celebrating the harvest of New Mexico's signature crop. Since then, families like the Gourneaus from all over the Four Corners area have attended the festival.

That includes Melissa Bales and her family, who traveled from Bayfield, Colo., on Saturday.

Like the Gourneaus, this was the Bales family's first time to attend the festival.

"We haven't come to the event, but we've gotten chiles here before," Bales said as she carried a bushel of roasted hot green chiles to her car.

Bales said she enjoys eating the Sutherland Farms chiles because she knows what she's getting.

"If they say they're hot, they're hot," she said.

But the chiles weren't the main attraction for the Bales family.

"I love the activities for the kids," Bales said.

She said those activities — which included horse-drawn wagon rides, face painting and a petting zoo — were the real reason they decided to attend this year.

The family was impressed by the activities.

"Maybe we'll come back for the pumpkin patch," Bales said, referring to the farm's weekend festivals throughout October.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.

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