Hatch chile festival sign

The Hatch Chile Festival

People around the world love New Mexico chile, because it has a good manageable amount of heat and a lot of meatiness that can be used to pack a lot of chile flavor into any food you can imagine. Of New Mexico chile, Hatch chile is the most famous by far. In fact, Hatch chile is a more popular way of saying New Mexico chile, though the chile varietals are named Numex at NMSU’s chile breeding program. One of the main reasons Hatch is so famous, besides the excellent terroir, is the Hatch Chile Festival. This festival, which takes place on Labor Day weekend every year is as big to Hatch as the Balloon Fiesta is for Albuquerque or the Chile Drop for Las Cruces.

Hatch Chile Festival History

The original Hatch Chile Festival was held in 1971, with just a few local growers. It was a small event for a small town, but but it was special and more and more interest developed over the years. In modern times, the festival has become quite popular, with people traveling from all over to visit. As a year had to be cancelled due to covid, 2023 marks the 51st Hatch Chile Festival.

Layout of the Hatch Chile Festival

Where to park for the Hatch Chile Festival?

Most years, the best place to park is at the Hatch Valley High School. They typically use the pecan orchard here to host some events, like auctions, shows, and competitions. From the school, you can proceed southwest to the downtown area, where you can find restaurants like Sparky’s to get a green chile cheeseburger. You might have to wait a while, as the lines run around the block during chile fest weekend.

This is an event that encompasses the entire town. If there is a business in Hatch, you bet it will be open during the event. I don’t really recommend driving around town unless you have somewhere specific to be. It’s way more fun to walk around and see all the sites, different stores, vendors, and artists in the community.

Going further west along Hall Street, you will see more restaurants and grocery stores. When you see Village Market, if you go north on School Street, they often have a carnival with various rides and games to play at the lot on the corner of School and Hill.

Hatch isn’t a big city, so you can walk from one side of town to the opposite side in about half an hour. As Labor Day weekend is still summertime, be sure to drink plenty of water, and rest in the shade if you need to. Stop in a grocery store or restaurant for air conditioning and refreshments if you feel overheated. The vendors here have the roasters blasting all day, so it can be somewhat hard to cool down without making a specific effort to do so.


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