Westwood Chile Fest to close down Morrison Road for eighth year of community celebration

Programming includes live music, local artists and a chile eating contest that’s “kind of gross to watch.”

The Westwood Mercadito on Morrison Road, painted by Santiago Jaramillo, Sept. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Westwood Mercadito on Morrison Road, painted by Santiago Jaramillo, Sept. 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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On Saturday, BuCu West (short for Business and Cultural District) will shut down Morrison Road for the third year in a row for their eighth annual Westwood Chile Fest, the multicultural celebration that’s all about bringing the community together.

The event will feature live music, dancing, 25 local artists, 36 local vendors, a farmer’s market with fresh food grown nearby at the co-op, Re:Vision and, of course, a chile eating contest for those who think they can take the heat.

“It’s not just the chiles themselves,” that are being celebrated, said Julie Casault, community development coordinator for BuCu West, “but the community coming together to celebrate fall.”

It’s also an opportunity to celebrate coming improvements to the neighborhood, she added. Last year, Denver voters overwhelmingly supported a General Obligation Fund bond for projects all over the city, and more than $12 million of that is set to fund renovations along Morrison Road.

The festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. Live music begins at 3 p.m. and goes until closing time, with local band Los Mocochetes closing the show.

Those attempting to enter the chile eating contest should be prepared to stomach a ghost pepper, Casault said. There are already 17 people signed up. It’s “kind of gross to watch,” but also rather entertaining.

While Westwood has traditionally been home to many of Denver’s Latino families, Casault stressed that the programming will reflect the neighborhood’s multicultural population. Entertainment, for instance, will include Aztec, Vietnamese and indigenous American dancing.

“We want to show the city of Denver as a whole, what we do and what makes us stand apart as a diverse community,” she said.