GOSHEN — Whether your tastes run mild or picante, everyone was invited to dip in at the annual Salsa Festival in downtown Goshen.
The Goshen Farmers Market brought the festival back for the fourth time Saturday, featuring Latino food, dance, games, music and art.
Market Manager Jo Ellen Davis said they wanted to keep the party going themselves after the first three years were funded by a grant from the city Community Relations Commission.
She said the goal is to see more of the Hispanic community in Goshen come to the farmers market while encouraging other residents to embrace the culture and celebrate Hispanic food and dance. It was also a way to promote Latino businesses in the area, from restaurants and food trucks to local artists.
The salsa recipe contest drew close to 20 entries, competing for prizes including the best mild, medium or hot and the best overall. Five local restaurants also put up their own recipes for attendees to sample and vote on.
Kellie O’Connell decided to try going in front of the panel of judges for the first time, putting three of her recipes into the mix. They included a salsa verde, with homegrown tomatillos and habaneros, a classic mild summer salsa with an heirloom tomato and a mango habanero recipe.
“We love the spicy with the sweetness,” she said. “It balances it out without letting it get too powerful.”
She grows many of the ingredients herself, including the tomatillos and cilantro, and her family has always done a lot of canning of their tomato sauce or tomato juice. She said making salsa is a good way to make her tomatoes last all winter.
Salsa dancing lessons came from Stephanie Honderick, owner of GoDance Studio, and instructor JD Nafziger, who’ve been involved with the festival from the beginning. They started with a demonstration, a series of steps and turns that ended in a dip, backed by lively music from the band Salsita y Toston.
“It’s a very easy dance to pick up,” Honderick said.