The 48th annual Hatch Chile Festival took place on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the Hatch Municipal Airport.
This year there is talk of discontinuing the festival due to lack of money. The town of Hatch makes a lot of money during the chile festival because of the increase in tourism that the festival brings in.
Over the past few years, however, there have been complaints from tourists about the festival charging for parking and the inflated prices at the festival.
The people of Hatch have been going to the festival since they were children and have never known Labor Day weekend without the festival. Hatch has become famous for green chile. Hatch green chile is even trademarked.
Many people who flock to Hatch during the festival are there for one reason, which is green chile.
Saul Graciano, 21, a student at NMSU and a Hatch resident, talked about how it was sad to hear that the festival might come to an end. “It’s a part of our history and our culture,” Graciano said.
Hatch Mayor Andrew Nuñez has addressed concerns about the festival shutting down. Mayor Nuñez said that the Village of Hatch is doing everything it can to keep the festival because of the amount of money it brings in for Hatch.
Nuñez expressed interest in pursuing state funding for the event. “We want to contact the state about how the balloon fiesta gets funding and see if they can fund [the chile festival] as well.”
Nuñez also said there was a chance the festival will end if city officials can’t fix the budget to make it work. He said the festival is essential to Hatch and he is dedicated to helping the festival continue.
Hatch grows green chile starting in the beginning of summer up until September or October. In the later months, the farmers harvest red chile. Hatch has the perfect climate for green chile to grow with its rough soil and hot weather. Without the world-famous green chile, no one would know anything about Hatch or where it is.
“Without chile we are just another small town without any meaning,” Graciano said.
Hatch is filled with many small businesses that benefit from the festival, such as Sparky’s, which is famous for its green chile cheeseburgers. Sparky’s gets its chile locally from Young Guns Produce. Local artisans also benefit from the festival.
Adrianna Gonzalez, 21, is another NMSU student from Hatch who recognizes the importance of the festival and how it ties the community together. “[The festival] is important to Hatch because it is a great activity for people to come together to celebrate green chile,” Gonzalez said.
The festival starts each year with a parade that the whole community comes out to see. The parade has people on horses, in old cars and on parade floats. The parade travels down the main street in Hatch and signifies the beginning of Labor Day weekend.