This will be the 25th year for the jalapeno-eating contest
Posted: July 13, 2015 – 5:14pm
By Bill Blankenship – www.cjonline.com
Want to disperse a huge crowd? Try dousing them with pepper spray. Want to attract a huge crowd? Offer them the chance to watch some foolhardy folk down a bunch of red hot chili peppers.
The latter is what has made County Legends 106.9’s jalapeno-eating contest an opening-night tradition of Topeka’s annual Fiesta Mexicana and one of its biggest spectator draws. This year will mark the 25th contest, and KTPK-FM has spiced up its prizes to include a trip for two to San Antonio, Texas, for the first-place finisher.
The contest will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Fiesta Stage, which is the one just east of N.E. Atchison and Lake streets, a block east of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 201 N.E. Chandler, which most years since 1933 has staged the fiesta to support a Catholic school or its parishioners’ children.
Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. or until all the contest slots are filled. That only took 20 minutes last year. All past champions will get an automatic berth in the 30-contestant roster. Three more reserve contestants will be registered to replace any no-shows. Entrants must be 18 years old or older and must sign a waiver.
The contestants will be divided into three preliminary heats. To start the contest, participants will be given one minute to eat just one fresh jalapeno pepper to within an eighth-inch of the stem. This initial pepper is just to allow the capsaicin oils to stew in the mouth where they trigger the same sensors that read “Fire!” the same way heat does in the human brain.
During the next 60 seconds, competitors will eat as many jalapenos as possible and keep them down for an additional minute. Winners of the preliminary rounds will advance to the final heat, where more jalapenos will be consumed until the first four finishers can be determined.
The first-place jalapeno eater will, as in years past, get a $500 cash prize, plus the San Antonio trip, which will include airfare, three nights at the Drury Inn and Suites, admission for two to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and its White Water Bay water park, a tour for two on Rio San Antonio Cruises and free admission to the Alamo.
Westar is the contest’s principal sponsor, with prizes further underwritten by La Colonia retirement community, the Kansas Expocentre, Dog Day Afternoon Inc. and Mi Ranchito restaurant.
The entertainment will continue on the Fiesta Stage after the jalapeno-eating contest with Rusty Rierson & The Forever Young Band, a Wichita-based Christian country band playing at 7:45 p.m., and Blazing Mojo, a local band that plays classic rock, country, Latin and ’70s dance music at 9:30 p.m. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Stage, which is near the church, will feature the Fiesta Dancers at 7 p.m. and Manolo y Los de la Cuesta at 9 p.m.
There also will be an opening ceremony at 5 p.m.