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Do you like your salsa hot or mild? Or just interesting?

A little of everything is expected at Maricopa’s 13th annual Salsa Festival. The city’s biggest event is set for March 24 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Copper Sky Regional Park.

It is a time of salsa tasting, game playing, hot-pepper eating, piñata busting, salsa dancing, music listening and, yes, beer drinking.

City events manager Niesha Whitman said more than 30 vendors have signed up.

As for the salsa, contestants can enter one category for free and others for $5. The three categories are hot, mild and unusual. Chefs will compete for cash prizes up to $1,000.

Each category win is $500 while second place is $150 and third is $50. The celebrity Judge’s Choice earns $250. The overall best, based on public voting, wins the coveted $1,000.

To try the salsas and vote, attendees purchase a $1 box with corn chips and room to place plastic cups of the competing salsa they can get.

Attendees who want to win a hundred bucks the hard way can enter the Chili Pepper Eating Contest. Contestants must work their way through a series of progressively hot peppers to take the title.

As usual there will be live mariachi music and performances by community groups.

Besides the Lil’ Pepper Zone with inflatables, Whitman said Artisan Signs is providing a craft area with sand painting, coloring, piñatas, face painting and more.

Admission to Salsa Fest is free. There is a $5 charge for Lil’ Pepper Zone wristbands. Parking at Copper Sky will also be $5, but there will be free park-and-ride areas at six schools and Maricopa Ace Hardware, with a shuttle service running from 2 to 8:30 p.m.

This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson