Brighton is a community of more than 35,000 residents that’s located about 20 minutes northeast of Denver, featuring plenty of historic landmarks, outdoor activities, and a rich cultural scene. Outdoor enthusiasts will find everything from fishing to disc golf at local parks, and Barr Lake State Park is one of the region's top wildlife viewing locations. If you’re a fan of history, architecture, or shopping, make your way to the Downtown area, which features 19th Century buildings, boutique shops, and more.
The Brighton Chile Fest is the Denver area's premier chile festival, and it will take place September 9, at LuLu’s Farm in Brighton. Attendees will encounter the largest selection of fresh roasted-to-order chiles in the region, and guests can purchase them by the full or a half bushel. Patrons will also find a marketplace featuring a variety of locally sourced spices, chile powders, sauces, and artisan foods, plus, addition artisans and vendors will sell handmade art and more. Local producers will host a variety of demonstrations covering subjects such as working with chiles. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the variety of chiles at the Quesadilla Station; it’s the perfect opportunity to sample chiles and made-in-Colorado specality foods. Food trucks will also be on hand, serving up cheese steaks, BBQ, street tacos, gelato, italian ice, and more, plus, The Narrow Gauge Dance Band will perform throughout the event. We got the opportunity to interview Amanda Griffin, Event Director, to learn more about this unique Colorado event.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
AG: This is our 9th overall year, and the 7th year in Brighton (first two were in Denver, hence the original Denver Chili Fest name).
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
AG: Attendance has averaged around 4,000-5,000, but we’re projecting around 6,000 this year.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
AG: We’ve got fun stuff for all ages, but we believe our primary demographic is over 35, with a high level of interest in Southwestern and Mexican foods.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
AG: We have the widest selection of fresh “roasted to order” varieties of chiles in the region, plus the unique shopping adventure that is Lulu’s Farm. Shoppers will find a huge selection of dried and ground chile powders, natural spice mixes and rubs, as well as other locally sourced specialty foods. Lulu’s is much more than a produce market; it’s an adventure, and the Brighton Chile Fest is an extension of that experience!
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
AG: Let’s start with the Kids’ Fun Zone which includes a 65’ obstacle course, bounce house and slide combo, as well as a tropical toddler bounce playground. There’s also face painting, plus, kids can check out a fire truck and take pictures with firemen. New this year, our friends from Barr Lake State Park will be joining in with some entertaining activities for the kids including making their t-shirts. For the music lovers, we’ve got the Narrow Gauge Band from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. They had people up dancing last year, and we expect nothing less this year!
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
AG: We’ve got some award winning barbeque, street tacos, Korean chicken and waffles, amazing natural lemonades, Mexican agua frescas and coffee, and more. There will also be food sampling as well as, the Brighton Firemen dishing up their award winning chili from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. So basically, if you leave the Brighton Chile Fest hungry, it’s your fault!
RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?
AG: Our host hotel is the Best Western, and we’ll have a discount group rate link up on our website. Additionally, next door to the Best Western, (only 1.4 miles from the festival) we’ve got a new Fairfield Inn & Suites which should be open in time, and a Hampton Inn. All three hotels offer complimentary hot buffet breakfasts and comfortable rooms.
RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?
AG: Yes. This year we have two terrific nonprofits benefiting from the event. The Brighton Legacy Foundation is a Brighton nonprofit that grants scholarships to local high school seniors and continuing education students. They will be selling raffle tickets throughout the day, with a live drawing at 5:30 pm for a Green Mountain Grill. Our second beneficiary is the Food Bank of the Rockies, and they help provide food to our local food pantries. They will be receiving a portion of sales during the event, and people can also make cash or non-perishable food donations at the event which we will get to Food Bank of the Rockies.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
AG: The Brighton Chile Fest has something for just about everyone. No matter your age, it’s a fun and relaxing experience with some amazing smells and tastes. It’s like a traditional hometown festival with a bit of sophisticated gourmet food. Admission is free, including the kids’ activities, so it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg just to get in the door, attendees can spend the afternoon and enjoy themselves!
For more information about the Brighton Chile Fest, please visit the event website.