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Heyday heats up

Not all men are afraid to cry ” and, as Paris Hilton would say, “That’s hot!” The Silt Heyday jalapeno-eating contest puts that theory to the test.

On the first Saturday of the past five Augusts, men ” and a few brave women ” have sat down to a quick snack of five green cone-shaped chili peppers. The tastebud-warming fruits, which are not as hot as habaneros but can still make tears swell in contestants’ eyes, offer an amusing break between watermelon seed-spitting and pie feeding.

“Last year we were really egging them on with the mike,” said Peggy Swank, a Heyday committee member since 1994. “We have a guy at the City Market in Rifle who picks us the best jalapenos, and he sends us the really, really hot peppers as tiebreakers. We have some people who quit before they can get them all down.”



A mystery man to many Heyday committee members, the three-time defending champion of the contest is known to consume his five peppers, accept his prize, drink his bottle of water and leave abruptly, said Kimberly Price. The event coordinator said she makes sure contestants get what they sign up for each year.

“I usually take a bite out of one, and they’re hot but not dangerously hot,” Price said. “I can eat pretty hot chili, though.”



Price said she looks forward to contestants’ reactions after eating the fiery peppers each year.

“They have to eat the whole thing, but it doesn’t last long. It’s quick. They try to pop them in their mouths as fast as they can,” she said. “It’s funny to see all the different faces they make. I’ve seen people throw up their arms and wave them in the air.”

The Silt Heyday committee created the free contest, which starts at 6 p.m. in Veterans Park, five years ago with fun ” and some challenge ” in mind, Swank said.

“We wanted to have a log-splitting contest, but the insurance companies gave us a lot of grief,” she said. “One year we had a mother sign a release so her 14-year-old could do it.”

Even the chief of police’s son has gotten in on the fun.

“Aaron Taylor, Chief Paul Taylor’s son said the peppers were some of the hottest he’s eaten,” Swank said. “I saw him eating ice cream and drinking milk afterwards.”

Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518

aclark@postindependent.com

– Started: in 1969 as a community gathering with pancake breakfast and picnic lunch

– Event’s origin: It always takes place after the crops are in.

– This year’s theme: “Hey, Hey, Hey Titans!” (in honor of the new Coal Ridge High School between Silt and New Castle)

– Events: pancake breakfast at 7 a.m., flag-raising at 8 a.m., food and craft booths open at 9 a.m., watermelon seed-spitting contest at 5 p.m., jalapeno-eating contest at 6, pie-feeding contest at 6:30, and music all day at Veterans Park; parade starts at 10 a.m. at Roy Moore Elementary School; and Anvil Points Quilt Guild show and sale 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Silt Historical Park

– Originally inhabited by: Ute and Fremont Indians

– Established: 1908, incorporated 1915

– Founder: Henry Halsey, townsite owner

– Original name: Ferguson

– Renamed by: Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, for the nature of the soil


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