SAFFORD — The 17th SalsaFest event — Spicy 17 — started Thursday with the first contest of the year — the Michelada contest.
The contest gave local mixologists a chance to show off their skills, as well as promote the restaurants, bars and hotels where they ply their trade.
“It was nerve wracking; I was shaking the whole time,” said Angel Ostergren, of Trailhead Hideaway. “Once I calmed down, and I realized it was like serving people at the bar, I did my thing. I really hope the judges enjoyed it.”
A michelada is a mixed cocktail with beer and either tomato or clamato juice. Then it’s up to the mixologists to put their unique spin with other additions, such as hot sauce, soy sauce and citrus.
Five local mixologists took part in the contest, with a panel of five judges making the decision — Reyes Aranda Jr., Victoria Grijalva, Peggy Hollowell, Lee Patterson and Desiree Schnell.
Winners will be announced Saturday from the Kempton Chevrolet Stage at SalsaFest.
Thursday was also the sponsor dinner, where the Graham County Chamber of Commerce thanks those who provide the support needed to put on the event. The dinner was provided by Isabel’s South of the Border restaurant and hosted by The Venue and Vignette on Main.
Live music was provided by Chaz Ornelas.
SalsaFest, in Fireman’s Park on the lawn in front of Safford City Hall and on the law in front of Graham County Courthouse, gets underway Friday at 5 p.m.
Friday features the Taste of the Trail salsa competition, between the restaurants that make up the Salsa Trail.
On Saturday, the amateur salsa makers will face off for bragging rights and more than $1,000 in prizes. Saturday will also feature martial arts and cheer demonstrations, Chihuahua races, a car show and plenty of live music, headlined by the band Crossroads at 8 p.m.