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Welcome to the Heat

'Austin Chronicle' Hot Sauce Festival

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Aug. 24, 2012

Welcome to the Heat
Photo by John Anderson

We want to welcome everyone – hot sauce aficionados, serious chile heads, fearless sun worshippers, and musical thrill seekers – to the 2012 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival in our new home at Fiesta Gardens. Once our beloved Waterloo Park became the staging area for years of Waller Creek project construction, we had to find a new home for the hottest, coolest party in town, and Fiesta Gardens really fits the bill. Nestled in a long-established Eastside neighborhood on the northeast shore of Lady Bird Lake, this venue is perfect for our party, with a big, covered pavilion in which to enjoy hundreds of hot sauces and live music, plus plenty of shade, and a great view of the lake. There will be printed maps available at the festival (and online) to acquaint everyone with the new layout. In addition to the hot sauce tasting tent, food and drink vendors will be on hand, and our own Claudia Alarcón has put together a stellar lineup of chefs to demonstrate the finer points of salsa preparation. As always, music will be rocking all day.

Festival founder Robb Walsh and his cadre of preliminary and celebrity judges will be ensconced in air-conditioned comfort in the party house at the east end of the park. Walsh will deliver their verdicts as to which of this year's hot sauce entries reign supreme and hand out awards at the end of the day.

The only things missing from this rosy picture are those empty state parking garages surrounding Waterloo Park, but event organizers Erin Collier and Dan Hardick have developed plans for every parking eventuality. Here's everything you need to know:

Park & Ride: Free parking for Hot Sauce Festival guests is available at Plaza Sal­til­lo at the northwest corner of Fourth & Waller and free shuttle buses will run to and from Fiesta Gar­dens throughout the day.

Bikes: Bike racks will be available at the main entrance to the festival.

Bus: Capital Metro's Bus Route 17 will drop you off two blocks from Fiesta Gardens and runs every 15 minutes.

Parking: is available but limited on the streets around Fies­ta Gar­dens. See the Park & Ride Map. We especially encourage you to try and park west of the venue if at all possible to avoid the neighborhoods. Be mindful of city signage as parking is restricted in some areas and towing is enforced in designated no parking zones. If you park in the blocks surrounding the venue on Riverview, Has­kell, Holly, or any of the cross streets like Chal­mers, Chicon, Lynn, or Anthony, bear in mind that you're in a residential neighborhood. Don't block driveways and be respectful of the neighbors.

So here's your party checklist: three nonperishable food items for our partners at the Capital Area Food Bank as admission fee, parking plan, natural fiber clothing, good sunscreen, hat, dark sunglasses, big appetite, beer money, and the desire to have plenty of tasty fun in the sun! Y'all come.

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