Why I love Pepperfest and think you should too!

This year Union Co.’s very own  Pepperfest will be held on September 4th from 11AM -5PM at Rancho Bella Vista, 827 Vines Rd Cobden Illinois.

If you are not familiar, Darn Hot Peppers is a mom-and-pop shop, owned and run by Jerry and Carol Jimenez, specializing in, you guessed it, hot peppers. Every year this time they pull out all the stops and put on what has grown into a huge event with over 200 people attending for the last few years.

Pepperfest has quickly become a favorite gathering for chile heads and hot pepper fans throughout the Midwest, with some people coming from as far as Washington DC and Seattle Washington. Ok those folks traveling such far distances are and my brother and myself + our families so this may be a bit of a yarn.  However, the fact that this family business pulls out all the stops every year in September is what makes Pepperfest so great and why this year we expect nearly 300 people to attend the festival.

The festival will have all the Jimenéz clan working from sun-up to sun-down, picking peppers, making fresh salsa and homemade jams jellies and processed chile pepper products, stringing up ristras, giving cooking classes, walking tours of the pepper fields to show folks the many varieties of hot peppers in bloom. Also attendees will be able to meet other local vendors who have a passion for cooking and growing peppers and see who makes the best hot/spicy food.

The festival got started about 6 or 7 years ago, i forget which, when Mom and Dad took their love for the rolling hills of Southern Illinois, sustainable agriculture and clean living and combined it with Mom’s homemade salsa and other recipes. Since then the business has grown and grown to the point that this year we’ve added a new building specifically to showcase our products and provide a welcoming place for people to enjoy our food while visiting the farm.

What can you expect if you come to visit the farm? Well, expect it to be hot! September is also a good time because many of the plants will be in full bloom, offering a beautiful, colorful and fragrant display for your senses. Bring your boots or tennis shoes too, cuz you’ll want to grab a basket and get out in the fields to pick your own peppers.

This is one of the most truly “all-natural” farms in the area. Rancho Bella Vista is committed to using traditional farming methods and doing things the old-fashioned way meaning we employ ONLY sustainable agriculture methods which exclude all use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. We rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and tilth to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests.

While other farms seemed to have jumped on the “sustainable” bandwagon, clean sustainable living has been a passion for this family for generations. Growing up in a family of migrant farm workers, dad has done his fair share of working in the fields with his brothers and sisters and other migrants.

Back in the day the fields were sprayed constantly with herbicides and pesticides and after watching people get sick over and over again, dad decided to do something about it and thus began a nearly 40 year career in public service. At the end of his career what he wanted more than anything was to complete his circle of life and that’s what he can do every day now.

In the morning he loves to just walk into the fields, see a good pepper, pick it up, take a bite and know for a fact that this is the best pepper on the earth because he grew it, and with that confidence he is totally charged up every time he loads up the truck because he wants everyone to get a chance to enjoy this treat knowing full well that they are eating clean, fresh and healthy peppers that have not been sprayed.

I could go on and on, but you should just come and experience this for yourself. hope to see you in September.

Buen Provecho

Xavier Jimenez

Posted on August 11, 2010, in Natural Farming, peppers, Rancho Bella Vista and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. charles abromaitis

    Do you know where I can buy fresh cayenne peppers the actual peppers not the powder

  2. darnhotpeppers

    what neck of the woods r u?

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