It’s About Much More Than Just Hot Sauce

Welcome to the 29th Annual Hot Sauce Festival

Photo by David Brendan Hall

It’s About Much More Than Just Hot Sauce

When thousands of people from all over the country descend upon Fiesta Gardens at the end of August, fully aware they'll sweat through their clothes and American Ninja Warrior-challenge their taste buds, it may not be immediately apparent to onlookers that it's not just in the name of self-flagellation. For the 29th year, The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival offers attendees a chance to help Central Texas Food Bank in their mission to end food insecurity and have a blast doing it. And the food bank has some very important new information to share.

The experts at Central Texas Food Bank have crunched the numbers, and in a push to do even more for fellow Austinites who need a little help, this year they're encouraging monetary donations instead of cans: "Unlike traditional nonperishable-only food donations, with your monetary gift we can distribute fresh produce to our Central Texas neighbors that need it the most!"

Aside from the fact that it requires far less physical exertion to carry a $5 bill than a bag of canned food, the donated cash (or yes, you can swipe a card) expands the efforts to feed Central Texans by stretching every dollar to its freshest full potential. Every $1 equals four meals; every $5 amounts to a whopping 20 meals. And if you've ever tried to feed 20 people with $5 – especially with healthy fruits and vegetables – you know how incredible this feat really is.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Festivalgoers can still expect a day of fun in the sun while noshing the world's best food combinations. Once again, hundreds of individuals, restaurants, and commercial bottlers enter their special chile pepper concoctions in a variety of categories – red, green, specialty variety, and pepper sauce. Yep, there is a match made in salsa heaven for everyone. More than 40 preliminary judges taste every single hot sauce entry to whittle the entries down to the very best of the best, and a group of local food scene celebrities use their culinary expertise to select the winners from each category. If you're curious about how stiff this enormous competition is, consider some of the biggest names in hot sauce who got their start at our festival: Torchy's Tacos, Yellowbird, and Tacodeli.

So, yes, it's going to be very hot. And yes, you need sunscreen and maybe even some Pepto. But every single person who braves the hellish heat to enjoy the cold beers, great music, and, of course, copious amounts of salsa, can walk away knowing that their $5 suggested entrance donation truly makes a difference in many people's lives.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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MORE Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
2018 Hot Sauce Contest & Festival Facts
2018 Hot Sauce Contest & Festival Facts
Everything you need to know

Aug. 24, 2018

Welcome to the 28th Annual Hot Sauce Festival
Welcome to the 28th Annual Hot Sauce Festival
The heat is on

Jessi Cape, Aug. 24, 2018

More by Jessi Cape
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Official Drink of Austin 2019 Menu Announced & Tickets Are On Sale
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The star-studded event benefits Austin Food & Wine Alliance

Sept. 5, 2019


Hot Sauce Festival 2019, Central Texas Food Bank

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