PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) - The Chili and Frijoles festival started Saturday morning in downtown Pueblo with a few changes due to COVID-19.
The event has been scaled down to 175 people at a time in the SRDA Parking lot and on S. Grand Avenue in front of the Vail Hotel. Attendees must wear a mask and get temperature checked before entering.
The Chili & Salsa Showdown will go on, but the Jalapeño Eating Contest and Chihuahua Parade have been canceled.
People we talked to Saturday didn't seem to mind the added precautions.
"It's great. They've got some really good music. I'm going to come again next year," said Patrick Chavez.
"We have been so busy that it is phenomenal," Susan Genova Humphrey with Peppers and Petals told us. "Everyone has been confined to their homes, can't do very much. And this is something that they can do and have fun doing!”
Vendors told us the Pueblo Chili, also known as the "Mira Sol", is the must-try -- but it's HOT. If you can't take the heat, they suggest the Big Jim Anaheim for medium hot. Many of the local farm stands also have mild chili peppers.
Regardless what you try, vendors we spoke with said they're just happy to see people supporting local farmers and buying local produce.
"I hope that people are walking away with a good smell in their nose, and a smile on their face," Joey Musso from Musso Farms said.
The festival continues Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for its final day.
The $5 gate admission is not required this year, according to event organizers. Instead, there's an online portal where you can donate your gate admission and receive a coupon for $2 off any beverage. All donations will help to pay for the costs associated with maintaining the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival.