This weekend, agriculture, food and entertainment converge in Fresno when the city launches what organizers hope will be an annual Chili Pepper Festival, according to an article in the Fresno Bee.
The Fresno festival joins a host of agricultural festivals around the state, notably the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the Selma Raisin Festival, the Kingsburg Watermelon Festival, the Castroville Artichoke Festival and the Stockton Asparagus Festival. A chili pepper festival is particularly appropriate for Fresno, the Bee article said, since hot food and hot weather can be cleverly combined in a community that has its own namesake hot chili pepper.
The Fresno chili pepper is hotter than a jalapeño, savory and the centerpiece of Saturday's event. Usually red, but sometimes yellow and green, the name includes several varieties, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Manual Jimenez told Bee reporter Bethany Clough. Some varieties grow upward, with their skinny ends pointing toward the sky, Jimenez said.
Wikipedia reports that, because the Fresno chili is riper and redder than the jalapeño, it has more vitamin C. Fresno chilis are an excellent source of B vitamins, and contain significant amounts of iron, thiamin, niacin, magnesium and riboflavin. They are low in calories, fat and sodium.
Many small-scale growers include chilis as part of their vegetable production systems. A few years ago, Jimenez planted more than 200 varieties in plots at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and invited farmers to observe for themselves which ones they might want to cultivate.