Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chili Festival Flops

Illustration courtesy of

As I mentioned in my last post, Connecticut promoter Ron Phillips had planned a "Chili Festival" in Madrid, modeled on the Chili Festival in Wild Hogs. Initially envisioned as "the next Woodstock", the festival had been planned to include motorcycle, food, and music events in Madrid on July 7, and a "Rock 'n' Rally" in Santa Fe. In late June the Santa Fe concert, which was to feature the Marshall Tucker Band, was called off, but Phillips announced he was moving ahead with the Madrid Chili Festival. The event was to include a chile-cooking contest sponsored by the International Chili Society, carnival rides, horseback/walking/motorcycle tours, and a concert with Gregg Rolie, the original lead singer for Santana.

But there were rumblings of discontent that grew louder all week. According to the June 30 Santa Fe New Mexican, Phillips said that Harley-Davidson of Santa Fe was sponsoring some events, but "a spokesman at the Santa Fe shop said he is hesitant to participate because of Phillips' last-minute changes." Phillips also announced he was receiving some "hate mail" from Madrid residents. Here comes the quote I love (a cross between self-inflation and protective pre-blaming against the town): "Madrid's a diamond in the rough. And to have an opportunity to have your town publicized in a favorable way with millions and millions of people, there's thousands of towns that would die for that. . . . The first step starts with an attitude of welcoming newcomers with different views . . . and I think Madrid is in that period of adjusting to their new role of being gracious hosts."

By July 5, Phillips had taken off the gloves and was heavily lambasting Madrid for what he termed sabotage and harassment. "This is like a Wild West town in Birmingham, AL. . . The prejudice is unbelievable. If your IQ is more than two numbers or your net worth is more than three numbers and you don't have blinders on for vision of the future, you get jammed in this town." (OK, now we're not only blaming Madrid, but we're dragging in the whole history of the South in the US.)

On July 6, Phillips announced that the Madrid event would not include a chile-cooking competition, (Q: Can you have a Chili Festival without chile? A: Apparently so.), but would still include the concert (although only two bands instead of four).

In the July 8 New Mexican, a report on the festival entitled "Chili Fest gets chilly turnout" claimed that there were only about 85 people at the festival when the music started. There were, however, 150 patrons at the Mine Shaft Tavern where the band Tenkiller Twins played for ten hours. (The Mine Shaft Tavern, liquor sponsor for the Festival, was clearly playing on both sides of the fence here!)


Anonymous said...

Its seems after reading several stories in the local papers and on the web that this promoter from the East and his daughter did not have Madrid or its residents in mind when this festival was created.. they had money in mind, and very little else.

This is the reason this festival failed. It was overpriced and ill-conceived from the very start. You do not base a festival of culture and community, (which is why most festivals are held), on a movie. Thats is just stupidity. But it seems the promoters must have had rose-colored glasses on at the time of planning, and only envisioning the best outcome, and not being concerned for the locals that have to tolerate the crowds (if only).

Madrid has several festivals and event throughout the year that define it.. it doesn't needs some rich stranger from another culture defining Madrid for us. And while everyone shows as evidence the "I" in Chili, that is a prime example of seeing this festival as an invasion.

And all this promoter does is blames others and insults the people of Madrid and Birmingham, AL.

Madrid IS a diamond in the rough.. and most folks, included me, want it to stay that way.

Anonymous said...

The Chili Festival was an idea created by Disney for a film that has now changed Madrid's reputation. Madrid is an artist community who welcomes people from all walks of life, but we do not appreciate an outsider coming in to take advantage of our "Diamond in the Rough" for his own monetary gain.
As for his comment about IQs. Madrid has a large share of highly intelligent people, probably more than its fair share.
The people who built Madrid up to what it is today still live in the town, and, yes we do try to get our town publicized, however we don't want the fame from something that is as inaccurate as that movie.

SantaFeKate said...

I hear you, anonymous! I hope you understood my posts to be largely supportive of your point of view.....