Sights and scents abound at Cinco de Mayo |

Sights and scents abound at Cinco de Mayo

Tamara Miller
NWS Cinco de Mayo1 SM 5-8 Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Alfredo Granillo and the Los Controlitos do their get the crowd going wile they do their modern dance during the Edwards Cinco de Mayo celebrationl.

Who knew there was a pepper hotter than a habanero?

The Eagle Valley Library District, that’s who.

Not content with just handing out samples during the chili cook-off at Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration in Edwards, Catherine Cifelli and others with the library district decided to incorporate a little chili trivia with their presentation. They are actually two peppers hotter than the habanero – the hottest of which are little red balls called tepin.

“We’re the library district,” Cifelli said. “We have to provide information.”

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Hundreds of people flooded Edwards Plaza and the Riverwalk in Edwards for the annual celebration, which featured tasty fare from vendors, Mexican dancing and music and, of course, information.

The Eagle County Health and Human Services department handed out flyers advising residents to use the insect repellent DEET, to protect themselves from West Nile Virus, which is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites.

“We’re trying to do what we can in the way of public education,” said director Kathleen Forinash, adding that the pleasant weather seemed to be drawing a large crowd for the celebration.

Indeed, temperatures were in the 70s Saturday and several shops in Edwards took advantage of the crowds by putting sale racks out on the sidewalk.

Back at the chili cook-off, Carl Mori was sampling the goods. Mori used to live in New Mexico where he served as a judge for the state’s chili contest. He noted some distinct differences between Colorado and New Mexico chili – New Mexico’s is hotter.

Mid-way through touring the different chili booths, he said the black-bean and steak chili from Cuisine Catering was holding the edge so far.

“It’s spicier,” he said. “And I do like spicy.”

Michael Hanrahan at Cuisine Catering is a seasoned professional when it comes to the cook-off – he’s won in various categories in the past.

But many entries came from newcomers. The Eagle County Detention Center decided to throw their chili in the ring for the first time this year. Their booth was aptly decorated like a jail and the cooks donned black-and-white striped shirts that read, “Chain Gang Chili.”

Rosalie Harrisson, a cook for the jail, spent the past week preparing her “Road Kill Chili”, which included venison, wine and “exotic mushrooms.” She handed out samples to deputies throughout the week.

“One said it was kind of bland, and when I gave it more spice, she said it was too hot,” Harrisson said.

Behind the chili booth, Fiesta’s restaurant had set up a tortilla rolling demonstration. Kids lined up to roll their own, using a small rolling pin to flatten the dough. Youngster Tucker Canon pressed the white dough out, and with the help of a Fiesta’s employee, fried it into a warm, slightly crispy treat.

The Denver-based dance group, Grupo Infantil Viva Mexico, entertained a growing circle of spectators at the Riverwalk entrance. A group of boys dressed up like cowboys in brown leather swung their cardboard cut-out swords in a dance. The girls, in vivid, multi-colored dresses, twirled their skirts around the boys. At the end, boys knelt down with their hands extended to their female partners. A particularly mismatched couple prompted the crowd to chuckle as the boy stretched his arm to meet the hand of the much taller girl.

Dancers Griselda Jaquez and Delia Balderrama, both 13, said their group travels as far away as Texas to perform. The two have been dancing since they were 10. Cinco de Mayo is a particularly favorite event of theirs.

“We love it,” Jaquez said. “There are so many parties.”

Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at: or by calling 949-0555 ext. 607.

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