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Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic at this year’s Mountain Chile Cha Cha

The seventh annual Mountain Chile Cha Cha will take place Saturday, Aug. 25, in Town Park.

The Cha Cha includes a morning trail race for all ages and abilities, a green chile cookoff and tasting, and a free concert in the park. The Mountain Chile Cha Cha is a no-admission, all-day fall celebration. There is a big tent, so this event happens rain or shine. There will be food vendors, green chile roasting and cold Mexican beer served in the cantina.

The award-winning Latin band Nosotros from Las Cruces, N.M., will begin playing at 1:30 p.m.

Much in the same way that easterners equate the smell of pressed apples with the coming of fall, residents of the Southwest know it’s autumn by the smell of roasting green chiles, usually the Hatch variety from New Mexico, but sometimes Big Jims, which are commonly grown around Grand Junction.

The fifth annual Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic will offer up more than $600 in prize money and some sweet trophies and bragging rights. This event is slightly different than a typical chile cookoff because it features only green chile, a dish that is ubiquitous in our region, but not as well-known outside New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Patty Aragon, who passed away 12 years ago, was locally famous for her green chile, often served on burgers and fries at Al’s Cafe, a restaurant she owned and ran with her husband, Ross. When they closed their doors in 1992, it was the end of an era for many Pagosans. Several local restaurants have kept the green chile tradition alive and well, along with legions of home cooks who continually strive for the “perfect” green chile recipe. Some people prefer scorching hot chile, others like it mild; some cooks use chicken, others use pork or no meat at all. No matter how you make your green chile, you’ll have a chance to show your stuff at the Classic and possibly win some cash or a trophy and the undying admiration of local green chile aficionados.

Entries will be accepted for the fifth annual Patty Aragon Green Chile Classic cookoff through Aug. 23. If you would like to compete, contact Jacque at 264-4237 to arrange a time to drop off your entry. First place in Green Chile with Meat, Meatless Green Chile and Overall People’s Choice will win $200 each. Additionally, trophies and medals will be awarded to the top three entrants in each category. If the judges and the people agree, one entrant could conceivably take home $600 in cash.

If you think you make a great green chile, this is your chance to prove it and possibly take home some cash, too. It’s just $5 per entry and you can enter both categories if you wish. Entry forms are available to download online at pagosaspringsdining.com.

The chile tasting will get underway at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 25. Tasters are encouraged to cast their vote for the People’s Choice award. The award ceneremony is set for 3:30.

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