Turn up the heat: Chilifest in Sunderland caps off summer

The Recorder, September 17, 2017, by Miranda Davis

Clear sinuses and spicy peppers were abound at this weekend’s Chilifest at Mike’s Maze.

About 2,000 attended the festival over the weekend, which celebrates locally grown peppers, hot sauce and spicy cuisine.

The event, which is in its sixth year, is hosted by Kitchen Garden Farm of Sunderland. Caroline Pam, co-owner of farm, said the event started as a way to create a bigger market for the peppers and turned into something bigger. The farm now makes hot sauce and Sriracha from its peppers, and grows roughly 2 acres worth.

This year’s festival included a hot sauce taste test, cooking demos and vendors using a variety of spices. There is also a “make your own” station where people could select, slice and jar their peppers and pour over a hot brine to make pickled peppers.

“So everyone gets to take home a little of Chilifest to have year round,” Pam said.

One of the vendors, Old Friends Farm in Amherst, was making snow cones with a hint of spice. That spice didn’t come from peppers, but ginger that the farm grows and turns into ginger syrup.

Jess Bryant and Chris Boucher from Old Friends Farm said they were making the tangy sweet snow cones with a vintage-style snow cone maker in their booth.

“It takes it up a notch,” Bryant said.

It’s a great festival to cap off summer, according to Bryant, who said the variety of vendors and activities makes for a great atmosphere.

The fest was held from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Mike’s Maze, which hosted the event, is at Warner Farm, 23 South Main St., Sunderland.