Pueblo farmers prepare for the Chile and Frijoles Festival

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Things are heating up in Pueblo for the annual Chile and Frijoles Festival happening downtown.

You know it’s that time of year again when you drive down east Highway 50 and you can smell the chilies roasting in the air.

Other than the state fair, it’s one of the biggest tourism-generating events for the area.

Farmers have been working hard to prepare all week long. FOX21 stopped by Milberger Farms and Uncle Chile’s roasting stand to see how they are getting ready.

“You just see everybody is moving,” said Sean Collier, co-owner of Uncle Chile’s. “Everybody is hustling. The fields are full of pickers. I mean it’s such a cool energy.”

Shane Milberger, owner of Milberger Farms said, “We started picking on Monday in order to get all of our orders put together.”

After picking, comes the roasting.

“Ninety-nine percent of them leave roasted. There are some that leave raw,” said Milberger.

As a sophomore in high school, Milberger started growing chilies to keep himself out of trouble. Thirty years later, Milberger Farms and the Pueblo Chile are still his pride and joy.

“Pueblo people and chilies, they go hand in hand.” Milberger said, “That’s just one of the commodities you grow if you’re a farmer in Pueblo.”

According to the Chamber of Commerce, about 140,000 people are expected to come to Pueblo for Chile Fest, potentially bringing nearly $4 million to the area.

Collier said, “More than 75 percent of our customers have been from out of town and a lot have been from out of state.”

At Uncle Chile’s roasting stand, they won’t actually even go to the festival. They’ll catch the crowd on their way downtown.

“The farmers that are there at the festival, it helps us tremendously and then out here on the farms all of the farm stands get a lot more business,” said Milberger.

But aside from the economic impact, it’s just an exciting time to be in Pueblo.

“We’re known for this Chile,” said Collier. “This is our time of year and you know between sloppers and green chile, that’s what Pueblo is all about.”

Last year, local farmers sold $50,000 worth of peppers over the three day event. It starts Friday, September 23 and ends Sunday September 25.

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