With the COVID-19 coupe up finally being over, hot sauce festivals and expo’s have been either popping up in new areas or continuing to bring fire to the community. ‘The Portland Hot Sauce Expo’ being one of those that has been going for a few years; everyone was eager to get back to the heat with this years show.
People love seeing people in “pain” when eating spicy stuff at festivals. This year’s PDX Expo was stacked with just such entertainment. From kicking off the “Stage of Doom” competitions with the “Doughnuts of Death”, it started gently, and worked its way into day two–a world record pepper eating attempt. Anytime something was happening on stage, all eyes and attention was up there without question. (It was) Tantalizing the crowd with the joy of people pushing their limits and either succeeding or crashing and literally burning. The challenges this year included “Spicy Tacos of Hell”, the “Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom challenge”, the “Fuego Box Chocolate”, challenge. The “Spicy Pizza of Doom” challenge, “Slaytanic Burrito” challenge, “Bobbing for Reapers” and the Guiness book of world records “Reaper Eating” challenge. There was courage and there was a little bit of stupidity, but all competitors walked away with pride and the possibly of some prize money.
On top of having amazing entertainment on the “Stage of Doom”, the expo also brought in a local wrestling academy to help fill out the entertainment. Boy oh boy, did they not disappoint. From one-on-one matches to a royal rumble on Saturday and Sunday, there was a little something for everyone. Huge body slams, tag-team matches, to weaving in and out of the crowd during the matches. It was awesome–one of wrestlers even has a hot sauce named after him. Derrick Shaw has a collab with a small-town hot sauce maker in So. Cal called the “Shaw Snake Redemption.” When asked about the hot sauce festival Shaw said, “Its really great for the newer guys, gives them an opportunity to do matches with a larger crowd and really start finding there wrestling personality and seeing it come out.” If you’re ever in Portland and have the chance to see Derrick Shaw wrestle, I urge you to jump at that chance; this guy is something else.
Along with ‘Spicy cocktail’ demonstrations, the expo brought some of the most talented and skilled bartenders the area has to offer, to compete in a booze and infuse cocktail challenge. bartenders had a great time and got to represent their local watering hole and share some great ideas with the spicy community.
Now where to start with the amazing people that most call vendors, but i have the pleasure of calling most of these people friends. I’m known as “Pepper Bae” in the pepper community. Let me tell you something, some of the most genuine, unique and loving people I have met in this world, are in this community. The vendors are what truly make events like these. People like Steve from Hotsauceholsters.com. Coming out all the way from Tennesse as well as Mike at Rising Smoke SauceWorks, coming all the way from North Carolina. Last and certainly not least–the wonderful and truly beautiful inside and out of Steve and Michele’s Berlant over at Old Agness Store. Coming from Agness Oregon, these people encompass what this small pepper community is all about. It’s about love for your fellow human being and helping your community. So much love that every gluten-free brownie you can taste is in every bite. When going to a festival or expo, you get to have an amazing experience. You get to try the taste of hot sauces but not only that, you get to meet who all these people are and where they come from; Their way of life and their inspirations for their creations. When meeting these people getting just absolutely lost in the stories and the blood, sweat and tears that all of them put into their products, it’s a truly unique and warming experience for your soul. Next time you see a hot sauce event in your area don’t miss out, because they are unforgettable.