2007 Houston Hot Sauce Festival Recap
The Houston Hot Sauce Festival is unlike any of the other Fiery Foods shows in the chilehead circuit. It’s the only show I’ve been to in the last 5 years that has had more “new” vendors then the usual suspects. And by “new” I mean vendors that you won’t find at Albuquerque or Fort Worth. The majority of the vendors are local companies that use local materials in their products. And that’s a refreshing change of pace.
And here’s a little known “secret” for those that have not done the show but are thinking about exhibiting next year: Vendor’s and VIPs get FREE BEER (and water & sodas)! Now that’s a great way to keep the vendors happy. Especially with all the dust and the sweltering heat, though the heat this year was said to not nearly be as bad as years past.
Saturday started up at 11 and ended at 6pm, though the crowds really started to turn out after about 1pm. And right off the bat, folks began coming up and asking for the hottest stuff possible. It was a joy to watch Jim Campbell make people cry with his Stoopid Hot Sauce – most of the public had tried it in years previous and kept coming back for more. Meanwhile in CaJohn’s booth – Black Mamba was a crowd favorite with quite a few returning survivors and most were convinced to try his Hell No Hot Sauce as a follow up to the Black Mamba. The beer ladies in the booth across the way almost couldn’t keep up with the droves of fired up chileheads that ran from either Jim’s booth or CaJohns booth in hopes of some relief.
Sunday kicked off at noon and went until 5pm – and the shorter day was just as packed as Saturday. More fell victim to the Stoopid Hot Sauce and Black Mamba. Jim’s 5 year reign of Hottest Sauce at the show was broken in an upset by the folks at Habanero Punch – but a lot of the show visitors kept coming back and proclaiming Stoopid Hot as the hottest, so it’s all about who you get to vote for you. 🙂
Next year promises to be a bigger year already with a lot of new stuff going into it. I’d really like to see some of the ZF vendors make the trip down – I can always help move product from Fort Worth to our house in Houston for the 2 weeks in between if need be and as MSK can attest, we have plenty of room to crash in, though we are about 30 miles away from the festivities. From what I observed at the show dip mixes were a hit, as were super hot salsas. Super hot sauces were being taste tested left and right and quite a few even sold out. Unexpectedly, there were not a lot of BBQ sauces at the show but those that were there sold really well. And I had more people ask me for wing sauce then I would have expected. There were a few wing sauces at the show – but no wing sauce specific vendors (Hint Defcon – you can cook there too!).
Overall, I loved the show – yes, it’s smaller then the others out there but that what gives it it’s charm – that and the dirt. It’s not nearly as stressful as the other shows with wall to wall people (there’s more room) and the Houston crowd isn’t afraid of the hot stuff and they are there to buy. And a good majority of attendees are repeat visitors that keep coming back every year and look forward to seeing their favorite vendors.