SalsaFest draws huge crowd - Eastern Arizona Courier: Safford News

SalsaFest draws huge crowd

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 7:13 am, Sat Oct 6, 2012.

Even though the highly anticipated balloon glow was canceled,  crowds of people filled up the vendor area during the opening night of the sixth annual SalsaFest in Downtown Safford on Friday.

Thousands of people descended upon Downtown Safford during the two-day event and were treated to a variety of wares and services, exciting events, live music and performances from local organizations, such as the Safford Dance Academy and DePalma's Team USA Martial Arts.

The celebration was initiated in October 2007 and was started as a tourist draw and to bring attention to Arizona's Salsa Trail, which includes the small southern Arizona communities of Safford, Thatcher, Pima, Clifton, Duncan, Willcox and York.

Dozens of Mexican restaurants line the trail, as well as a family owned tortilla factory and a woman who grows chili peppers.

At the heart of the celebration is the salsa itself. The annual salsa competition brings amateurs from far and wide to pit their concoctions against each others and also settles bragging rights between restaurants in the professional division – for at least another year, that is.

This year, the prize for the best professional salsa went to the La Paloma restaurant in Solomon. Manager Nick Tellez expressed his pleasure with the judges' decision.

"It feels spectacular," he said. "It's been a long time coming."

During the jalapeno-eating contest, Raime Loya demonstrated his iron stomach and took away first place for the second year in a row. This year, the peppers were especially large, and Loya won by downing five of the hot giants.

Along with all the salsa-oriented contests, the weekend also featured chihuahua races and a classic car show.

Safford Mayor Chris Gibbs said he was overjoyed with the turnout – especially Friday night during the cool weather – and the event has become a Safford staple that promotes fun with friends and family.

"It's what America is supposed to be like," Gibbs said. "There's lots of fun things to do, but for me, it's just the feeling of what I think America should be."


competition results

Amateur Salsa Challenge:

1. Taylor Hornelaz

2. Vonda Evans

3. Amelia Sainz

Judges' Choice

1. Terry Letterly

2. Alberto Carrasco

3. Cecile Price

Professional Division

Winner: La Paloma

Honorable Mention: Manor House/Mary Lou Kreig

School Competition

Winner: Safford High School Culinary

Best Decorated Table

Rebecca Carrillo

SalsaFest Salsa Eating Contest

1. Douglas Van Raam

2. Diana Alvarez

3. David Finley

SalsaFest Jalapeno Eating Contest

1. Ramie Loya

2. Victor Pachecho

3. Jim Rolfson

Classic Car Show

Pre-1959 all original

1. Frank Perea

2. Russ Osterling

1960-73 all original

1. Sandra Maldonado

2. Chris Munoz

Pre-1949 street rods

1. Gary Monzingo

2. William Cole

Custom/modified truck

1. David Casillas

Pre-1974 custom/modified car

1. Brad Cunningham

2. Frank Castillo

Pre-1974 custom/modified truck

1. Andrew Cordova

2. Mike Bibb

1974-99 original cars

1. Ryan Munoz

1974-2012 custom/modified car

1. Gabe Holguin

1974-2012 custom/modified truck

1. Rick Frazier

Sports car

1. Temo Leon

2. Dewaye Dikerson

Lowrider car

1. Steven Garcia

2. Ryan Casillas

Lowrider bicycle

1. Steven Garcia

2. Geraldo Garcia

Overall Winner-Gary Monzingo


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1 comment:

  • desertlady posted at 1:28 pm on Wed, Oct 3, 2012.

    desertlady Posts: 6

    The Lion's Club here in the Gila Valley did a fantastic job with their continued excellence of putting this event on. The had hundreds of hours of volunteer hours that made this event one that only gets bigger and better every year. Hats off to the Safford Lion's Club. We are looking forward to next years' event!!!!