More than 600 attend inaugural salsa festival


The 1st annual Maricopa Salsa Festival Presented by went off without a hitch on Saturday. More then 600 people came to sample salsas, listen to live music and visit with neighbors. Armed with a free bag of chips and a ballot, tasters got to sample all types of salsa ranging from smooth and spicy to chunky and refreshing.


Salsa presenters were excited to be in the competition and most decorated their booths to add excitement and interest. Though most of the salsa in the hot category was spicier than some could handle, most mild salsas gave tasters a break from the heat.

Salsa maker Chris Ward, Clark Vangilder and the new Calvary Chapel entered a mild salsa into the festival. They were excited to meet people in the community and show off their snake-sprinkled recipe. Other mild salsas had unusual twists by adding cheese to their recipes.

Clark Vangilder and Chris Ward of the Calvary Chapel team put on the finishing touches before the crowd arrives.

Yvonne Roman entered her hot salsa dubbed the “Four Flavors.” Her aunt, Elena Roman, who sang with the band for a few songs, explained the salsa’s name. “It contains four types of tomatoes and four types of chilies, all roasted together.”

Yvonne and Elena Roman get ready to serve up their Four Flavors Salsa.

Ed Pike also entered the hot category with his self-named “Spicy Pikes Salsa.” He prepared and distributed gallons of his concoction by day’s end.

Ed Pike chops black olives for his Spicy Pikes Salsa.

Rebecca Rico entered three salsas into the contest after being persuaded by her friend, Cortney Talley. “She makes salsa for Farmers Restaurant,” said Talley. “And I knew she had to enter.”

Rico submitted a mild, unusual and hot salsa to the competition and also received help from Joe Perez. The two other unusual salsas entered both included seafood, while Rico’s twist was more of a color change with green tomatoes and yellow chilies.

Picnic tables allowed tasters to have a seat and enjoy their salsa. The Johnson Family described the atmosphere as “casual and fun, filled with both good food and good music.”

Koeby, Kolten, Kelli and Kaitlin Johnson enjoy the music and food.

Salsa wasn’t the only treat the festival had to offer. Maricopa High School’s Key  src=Club was on hand selling soda and water. Gold Medal Swim School and Maricopa’s City Planning Department both had tables set up for the community to learn more about their programs. The “Friends of the Library” were out promoting the upcoming book sale (see related story) and enjoying the fun.

A giant Bounce-A-Lot helped to entertain the kids, while the Freddie Duran Plan (see related story) filled the air with both cover and original tunes. Maricopa’s Mayor Kelly Anderson also joined the band for a song. Anderson showed his musical skills by playing the electric guitar.

Mayor Anderson helped out the band to the delight of the attendees.

Freddie Duran Plan entertained the crowd with a variety of music styles.

At the close of the festival, ballots were counted and the winners were announced. Prizes included handmade chip platters and salsa bowls, Arizona Diamondbacks tickets and a $100 cash prize presented on the spot by Melissa Kunz, owner of Curves.

Come back tomorrow to get all the details on the Festival winners!