SAFFORD — The salsa at the Spicy 17 2023 NatureSweet Tomatoes SalsaFest was so good, it was difficult to determine a winner.
By just one point, Doreen Grove’s salsa captured the $500 prize in the CMI SalsaFest People’s Choice voting. And in the CMI SalsaFest Judge’s voting, it came down to a tie-breaker to give Grove the $1,000 first prize over Chelsea Stephens’ The Hot Dogs salsa.
“I was just hoping for one or the other,” Grove said, adding she’s likely to return to defend her title. “Probably, we’re going to try. But I’m not going to change my recipe; we’ll see.”
Stephens walked away the with $200 first prize in the CMI SalsaFest Best Table Display contest.
Mechy’s Restaurant walked away with two $500 checks in the Taste of the Trail salsa-making competition. Judges ruled Mechy’s had both the best red and green salsa.
However, by a wide margin, the judges determined that Isabel’s South of the Border had the best overall salsa, awarding the Willcox restaurant the $1,000 first prize.
In addition to the cash prizes, all winners received a Velocity Builders T-shirt and a hand-crafted wooden SalsaFest truck from Toys by Dan. Mechy’s and Isabel’s also received banners to hang in their restaurants.
Trailhead Hideaway, winner of the 2022 Taste of the Trail best salsa, took home bragging rights, with bartender Chelsea Sargent winning first place in the inaugural michelada contest, which took place Thursday at The Venue and Vignette on Main during the SalsaFest Sponsor Dinner.
“I’ve been a bartender for a while and I have a passion for it. I love it and micheladas are one of my favorite things to make,” Sargent said.
Joel Burnett was named the winner in the Audio Visions and Custom Upholstery Services Car Show.
The two-day event was packed with people enjoying salsa; the Budweiser Beer Garden; and music presented by Tierra Antigua Realty from Mariachi Luz de Luna and the XS Band on Friday; and Zaylie Windsor, Western New Mexico University Mariachi’s and Crossroads on Saturday, presented by the United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, T-Mobile, Audio Visions and Custom Upholstery Services.