Sunday was the final day so I decided to get to the event center at 8AM. It was kind of neat to see all the vendors stumble around searching for coffee like zombies looking for brains. The heavy drinking done the night before had most of them on the search for aspirin as well. But magically, when the doors opened to the press at 9, they all were in top form. Wheeling and dealing their products, ready to face the crowd for one last time.
I wanted to hit up a few people I knew before the real crowd burst onto the scene. My first stop was at Big Dawg's booth where I got to meet the man himself, his wife, and daughter. I really enjoyed the professional feel of his set-up. The salsa and sauces each had their own case and were displayed on a slant for easy viewing. The sample chips were behind a “sneeze guard” and various pictures of him and his wife fighting fires were proudly displayed. I picked up some of his Slobber Sauce and Candy's Reserve and was off to my next stop.
Nando's booth was HUGE! They bought up 3 vendor booths to display all there products! They were doing Wheel of Fortune type give a ways, cooking lessons, and ALL of their products (which is a lot) were out for sampling. I got to talk with Clive, Nando's President, about their up and coming tour of Africa and about doing a featured review of his products. I also got to talk with Rachelle Schaetzi, Nando's Product Development Manager. It turns out that her husband hails from Passau, Germany! That's the location my family is from, although we had to change our last names from Passau to Passow when we came to America. She was quite excited to be able to tell her husband that she met, “The Mr. Passau”.
The Chile Pepper Institute was another vendor I was eagerly anticipating to visit. Based out of New Mexico State University, the Institute is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to dispersing information, education, and doing research on our beloved peppers. I was excited to see that they had both plants and pods of the Bhut Jolokia (aka Naga Morich) up for sale. I was, however, very disappointed in their selection of seeds. 80% of them were “ornamental” varieties and they didn't even have one packet of Naga seeds for sale.
By now, the public was allowed into the event and my back was complaining to me about all the walking I was doing so I decided to get a massage. In one of the little rooms in the hallway were the great people at “On the Spot Chair Massage” who were waiting for sore people like me to walk in. I paid $6 for five minutes of bliss. Kim Warner was the one who gave me the massage and after my five minutes were up, I felt like a new man. I walked out and standing in front of me was the owner of The Chi
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alis discount'>buy cialis discountli Pepper Emporium who was now wearing his pepper suit. I was wishing to capture a showdown between him and Pepperman, but alas, it never happened.
Since I had hit up most of the vendors, I decided to take it easy at this point. I hung out with the guys at Bermuda Jam Factory (who kindly gave me some alcohol to go with their jam) for a bit then went and hung out with CaJohn behind his booth. This is where I got to sign a bunch of his labels and The Hot Sauce Blog's labels for their annual charity auction. After signing about 120 labels, I sat back and watched the crown go by.
Next stop on my whirlwind tour of booth squatting was Jim Campbell's booth. It was here that people really got their heat on (he is after all a firefighter). He had two extract sauces in his arsenal that really had some kick to it. As if that wasn't enough to light you up, he served the sauce to you on bread. Bread that had it's dough mixed with two different types of powdered Habaneros and then baked!
To cap off a long day of sipping suds and snacking on sauce, I went over to Danny Cash's booth. I must say the Cash crew were great. I got to use their cooler to put my beers in, come and go as I pleased, and watch the crowd sample their great sauces. I ended up spending about an hour and a half drinking beers with them until the show ended.
All in all it was an amazing experience. According to CaJohn, I looked like a kid in a candy store. I have never had so many sauces, endorphin rushes, and met so many friends in such a short period of time. The vendors I talked with were nice and I learned an important thing from them about the industry. No one is out there to backstab anyone. This is the only industry I've been privy to that every single person is there to support and help out each other. It's truly a magical thing when a company suggests another company's products because they have what you are looking for.
In closing, I would like to thank a few specific people that helped make this event possible for me; Dave Dewit for creating the Fiery Foods Show; Jim Campbell, his wife Abby, and friend Kyle for without them I wouldn't have had a place to sleep or ride to the show during the event; Lynn Duck and wife Kim Duckworth for providing me a place to stay after the show was done (and for the fresh beer and late night conversations); Joe and Linda Levinson for getting the word out that I was going to the show; Nick Lindauer for the beer and use of his computer for downloading my pictures; and lastly, to all the vendors that attended the show and put up with chili heads like me!