Monday, July 18, 2011

Best Salsa in the Ark-La-Tex!

I just wanted to take a second to brag on my sweet husband!

This time of year our house is over run with tomatoes, cilantro, and mason jars! Yes- it is salsa season! Every week David makes fresh batches of salsa for our local Farmers' Market on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings! I have a hard time getting up and out of the house by 6:45 a.m. on a Saturday but David is up and at 'em every week selling salsa and any vegetables that we have from our garden or from other local gardeners.

This weekend was the Second Annual Salsa Contest. We entered our mild and medium but also decided to try our hand at a Peach Salsa recipe for the "Specialty Salsa" category. David found a recipe online that he thought would worked. He blended the ingredients (including fresh Pittsburg, Texas peaches that we got from Comeback Creek Farm at our Farmers' Market Thursday evening and Nashville, Arkansas peaches from David's grandparents). After it was all blended together we didn't like the way it tasted. David tweaked it until about 11:00 p.m. and decided just to can it and put in the competition for the heck of it. He didn't expect it to do well at all.

So Saturday morning comes around (really early) and we head up to the market and set up our salsa, vegetables, lemonade stand, and a few wreaths that I have been trying to sell since March.

The market had a great turn out! We were busy all morning. The Salsa contest started about 10:00 with over 35 entries. There was a Mariachi singer in full Mexican get up- sombrero and all- that serenaded all of the market guests!! 
via Texarkana Gazette  
I don't know how he could stand to be in all that clothing in the 100+ degree heat! (That's my mama in the background! - Our family on all sides came to the market and helped with the contest)

via Texarkana Gazette

There was a great turnout- 108 ballots cast and over 300 guests at the market between 7:00 a.m. and Noon. When it came down to announcing the winners, David and I didn't expect much! We were surprised to hear that we won the "Medium Salsa" category- we won a colorful knife set that I love (they will look so good in my kitchen). The next announcement surprised us even more when they announced that we had won the "Specialty Salsa" category (We hadn't even tasted it after it had been canned but somehow it turned out much better than we expected)! And then the biggest surprise of all- David's Peach Salsa was named the "Best Salsa in the Ark-La-Tex" with the most votes cast out of all 35 entries!!! OH.MY.GOODNESS!! David was shocked!!

The day was a lot of fun! All of the vendors did well! Nelson sold out of lemonade shortly after the contest- some of that salsa was HOT! I actually sold 3 wreaths (YAY) and many other vendors sold out!

Check out the front page article in the Texarkana Gazette from this Sunday Morning! The video is great!

Hot & Spicy
Rookie racks up at salsa contest
By: Lareign Ward - Texarkana Gazette

David Orr’s peach salsa beat out 35 others Saturday to be named best salsa in the Ark-La-Tex.
Orr mixed peaches from Nashville, Ark., with regular homemade salsa for his winning recipe in a competition at Farmers’ Market in downtown Texarkana, Texas.

“It was really my first time” making the recipe, the Texarkana resident said.

His regular salsa won the medium-hot category.

Other categories included mild, hot, extra-hot and specialty. Orr’s peach salsa was named best in the specialty category.

For his efforts, Orr was rewarded with an oven roaster
“How am I supposed to make salsa out of this?” Orr joked as he accepted his prize. 

After winning the inaugural Best Salsa in the Ark-La-Tex Contest in 2010, Bonita Smith of Stamps, Ark., had to settle for second place this year. She won a blender for making salsa.

Category winners received knife sets.

Ironwood Grill received the most votes in the restaurant-only competition. 

As she prepared to announce the winners, Farmers’ Market manager Adra Hallford noted 108 ballots had been cast.

“It was hot; it was heavy,” Hallford said. “The competition was fierce, and the salsa was fantastic.”

Salsa was identified only by number for judging, but many entrants sold their salsa by the jar. This led some fans to walk around the market and ask each vendor what number their salsa was, all in hopes of finding some of their favorite for sale.

Michele Aitchison of Texarkana, Texas, sampled sauces in the hot category and said she preferred salsa with visible vegetables. Aitchison, an Oregon native who recently moved to the city, said there’s a noticeable difference in salsa between the two locations. 

“They don’t do it in Oregon very well,” she said. 

The art of making salsa is a family affair for Michael Austin, 9, and 11-year-old brother Nathan, both of Texarkana, Ark. They proudly displayed some of Austin’s Finest “Liquid Fire.” 

“This is our hottest one,” Nathan said. “It’s got mostly cayenne in it, with some jalapeƱos and a little bit of tomatoes.”

Michael added, “You’ve only got to put a little bit on your taco.”

Austin’s Finest is run by Nathan and Michael’s parents, Micah and Denise Austin, along with their uncle, Nathan Austin.

Don Barfield of New Boston, Texas, entered salsa his wife makes using a recipe passed down from his grandmother. 

“Nobody but my grandmother and my wife know how much of each ingredient (to use),” Barfield said. 

Hallford said customers were lined up at 6:15 a.m., even though the market doesn’t open until 7. She thinks the size of Saturday’s crowd means word is getting around about both the market and the salsa competition.

“For a young market, this is fantastic,” Hallford said. “This is really only our second year (in operation). I think we’re building something that’s really going to work.”


  1. Wow! Congrats David! And I'm glad you sold some more wreaths! They are all beautiful. You need to post some on here. ;)

  2. Thank you! I have two left from my original batch to sell and I might make a few more to post on here! I had to take mine off my door for a bit- the wasps were trying to make a home in the birdhouse!! : )


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