If you live and die by fire, skip this. But if you live in Albuquerque and have not been to the National Fiery Foods and BBQ Show, which hits Sandia resort this weekend, I have one syllable of advice for you: GO.
A few tips from a long-time attendee (missing maybe 3 of the past 17 years?):
- Go Early, Go Late. The crowds can be intimidating. Yes, any time of day, you will leave with your tongue on fire and your belly full of dozens of samples. But if you want to maximize your time and avoid lines, get there half an hour before opening or go two hours before close. If you hate crowds, Sunday late afternoon is the sweet spot.
- Pace Yourself. The trend for years was super hot, then for a few it was sweet. Not sure what it will be this year, but enough cumulative Scoville units in your life systems can do crazy things. I was married once, and we almost called the ambulance once. Seriously.
- Eat First, Buy Later. You'll taste samples that blow you away; others that leave you meh. Give the 250+ exhibitors, many of them family-owned businesses, a chance before you commit to a purchase. Instead of buying on the spot, mentally flag those five or so booths that knocked you out -- and then write it down. There is so much good salsa that you'll lose track. Then go back and buy the goods on your way out. This way, you get a full flavor of what's available, and you have less crap to lug around for a couple of hours.
- Sunday Closing Bonus! All of the vendors, most of whom give free samples, are looking to increase awareness and move product. By product, I mean the boxes of jars they each bring or ship to the show. Buying any time during the show is smart, but if you're looking to stock your shelves, go the last few hours on Sunday. Amazing deals. Last year at Sunday close, I got got some seriously good salsa for $2 a jar.
- Arrange Childcare. This is a fun place for an adult group, a date or even solo surfing (an expert technique for those who want to maximize Scoville intake per hour). It is very tough to get a stroller through the crowd. And in my experience, young kids are likely to be very bored.
Got other tips? Disagree? Either way, have fun and be safe! Thanks for the read. db