Monday, August 18, 2014

Zing! Poof! Pow!... Sweet!

Visions of sweet bell peppers, jalapenos, chiles, and habaneros danced in their heads...

Zing! Poof! Pow! ... Sweet!      ... PEPPERS!!

A month from now, the downtown Kingsport Farmers Market will be filled with the many sights, smells, and tastes of local and southeastern peppers at the first annual Kingsport Pepper Festival. The festival, a fundraiser organized by the Harvest of Hope (HOH) Community Garden, will be held Saturday, September 13th 2014 from 9am to 4pm.  Admission is free; various costs for the purchase of items from vendors.

We asked one of the pepper festival committee members, Doug Hilton, to tell us more about the festival's origins, planning, expectations, etc. When asked how the Kingsport Pepper Festival originated, Hilton says "It all started in March of this year when the Harvest of Hope Gardeners (while hosting a booth at the Farm Expo) were asked had they ever thought of having a pepper festival as the nearest one was several states away."  After mulling over the idea, the gardeners began to start planning in April.  Their main reason/objective for the festival:  To raise funds and awareness (recognition) of the Harvest of Hope Community Garden.  Read more about the Harvest of Hope Community garden and its goals on the following links:

The festival, able to handle 25 vendors, is expected to draw people from all areas of the community. Vendors, restaurants, crafters, and pepper professionals will be on hand to offer workshops, food, games, and contests to those who attend.

Restaurant vendors include Buffalo Wild Wings, Longhorn Steakhouse, and possibly Earthfare.  Barberitos will even take lunch orders and deliver meals.

Talk about HOT! Contests include gnarliest, biggest, best looking peppers, best tasting pickled peppers.  The public will also have the opportunity to purchase tickets for food items, try the wings and pepper poppers, and judge them; those restaurants that receive the most votes will earn bragging rights. The Wing Eating Contest will definitely be exciting and quite official with weighing of wings before and after participants eat the wings.  You will want to join in or cheer on friends.

Children and adult games abound:  Pepper toss (platforms built by Randy Neel of Lowe's Kingsport), tongue twisters, and pin the leaf on the pepper.  The pepper toss is much like a corn-hole toss.

The festival will host several workshops and demonstrations.  The festival is hoping to have Ed Currie (or representative), record holder for the world's hottest pepper on earth! Mr. Currie will be speaking about peppers during one of the workshops.  A Jonesborough gentleman will talk about hot peppers and how to get the plants started, etc.  Learn what a Scoville unit is!

Another featured demonstration event will be canning peppers and/or relishes. Robbie Peppers (no joke) from the Hawkins County UT Extension office will speak on canning details including materials, preparation, and procedure. These are just a few of the programs planned for the event.

The entire pepper festival committee wishes to thank all the sponsors who have contributed so far (or have signed up to help). When asked if it was too late to be a vendor, sponsor, or goody-bag sponsor for the festival, Mr. Hilton says that 'no, it is not too late' and to call him at 239-9433 and/or see the website link:  

So get ready to:  Zing a pepper into your mouth. Poof it disappears! Pow, feel the spice! And Sweet, savor the pleasure of enjoying the sweet or fiery peppers and the entire festival.

Best of all, proceeds from the Kingsport Pepper Festival benefit the Harvest of Hope (HOH) Community Garden :)

See photos from the event on This blog post

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