Arts and Culture

Día de los Muertos event featured hot temps and chile weather

Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead, but the Olinger Crown Hill cemetery in Wheat Ridge celebrated El Día de Los Muertos on Saturday with music, dancing, art, food, chiles and sugar-skull painting for kids (at least while the sugar skulls lasted).

And the party was hot -- or at least I was after foolishly entering a chile eating contest.

The rules were simple. Contestants had to peel (or not, if they didn't mind the skin) and eat three roasted peppers, a large mild one, a smaller one with medium heat, and an even smaller, but much more fiery, Dynamite pepper. The peppers had to be eaten in that order, but we didn't have to eat the stems or the seeds. I thought I had a chance. After all, I love peppers and I love eating. And while I was a little nervous about the spiciness, I figured it would be over soon enough.

Turns out, it was over before I knew it. While I was still trying to wolf down my second pepper, three other contestants had already finished. And that was for the best, because the "mild pepper" turned out to be pretty hot, and the "medium pepper" nearly set my mouth on fire. I left the "fiery" Dynamite on the plate.

The contest had around ten entrants and good crowd of spectators, including many children who turned out for the celebration on a beautiful fall day; in fact, the kids went through 250 sugar skulls in just ten minutes, painting everything in sight.

Luckily, there was also dancing, artwork by Stevon Lucero, Jerry Vigil and others, and activities to keep people busy -- and to keep their minds off the chiles in their bellies.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes