Spicing Things Up at the 2016 Salsa Festival & Showdown

Thank you to everyone who came out to Thrive’s 2nd Annual Salsa Festival & Showdown on The Commons in downtown Medford last Saturday! The Salsa Festival & Showdown is a celebration of Latino culture, healthy living, and local food and last Saturday was just that – a beautiful evening filled with music, food, dancing, family fun and serious salsa-making. The event started with Jessica De Nova of Jefferson Public Radio, the emcee, introducing the dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre, who specializes in regional folk dances from all over Mexico. Their costumes and flowing skirts were colorful and captivating and each dance seemed to tell a unique story.




After Ballet Folklorico finished up, Ana Maria Salaverry of La Clinica offered two cooking demonstrations highlighting locally grown ingredients, with George Rocha getting everyone moving with a Zumba lesson in between the cooking demos. Following Ana Maria’s second demo, it was time for the six Salsa Showdown contestants to show off their salsa skills! The Salsa Showdown, sponsored by the co-op, kicked off just after 6pm.



While the contestants were busy chopping away, the second dance group took the stage. Escuela de Bellas Artes Tejupilco was definitely one of the highlights of the night with their gorgeous, elaborate feathered costumes and rhythmic, percussive dancing.


Once the Salsa Showdown contestants finished their incredible salsas, judges Alfredo Flores of Caminos, Sarah Lemon of the Mail Tribune, and SOU Student Linda Escot began the difficult task of selecting the winners. While the judges were busy tasting and taking notes on their favorites, we moved the Showdown salsas to the Festival tasting area for public sampling. Festival attendees were asked to taste the contestant salsas and vote for their favorite, and they were eager to cast their votes! There were so many folks lining up to taste and vote, we ended up needing to push back the announcement of the winners, just so that everyone had a chance to choose their favorite. For many, it was not an easy decision – we overheard a lot of people say all the salsas were delicious! While the voting wrapped up, Jacob Jagger taught the audience some salsa dancing and after that, DJ Gizmo kept the crowd dancing through the end of the Festival.

Check out the six delicious salsas (and the winners!) from the Salsa Showdown:


Made by Faith Tuttle of Grants Pass. Includes the following local ingredients: Fry Family Farm Anaheim, Fry Family Farm Jalapeno, Wandering Roots Roma Tomato, Wandering Roots Tomatillo, Wandering Roots Garlic, Blue Fox Farm Cilantro, Whistling Duck White Onion, and Whistling Duck Red Onion.


Made by Faye Hashek of Grants Pass. Includes the following local ingredients: Valley View Orchard Bartlett Pear, Barking Moon Farm Shishito Pepper, Fry Family Farm Anaheim, Fry Family Farm Jalapeno, Wandering Roots Roma Tomato, Wandering Roots Garlic, Blue Fox Farm Cilantro, Blue Fox Farm Tomato, and Whistling Duck Red Onion.


3RD PLACE: Made by Nicole Ward of Ashland (who was last year’s champ!). Includes the following local ingredients: Wandering Roots Tomatillo, Wandering Roots Garlic, Whistling Duck Red Onion, Blue Fox Farm Cilantro, Fry Family Farm Poblano, and Fry Family Farm Jalapeno.


2ND PLACE: Made by Bethany Hashek of Grants Pass. Includes the following local ingredients: Fry Family Farm Poblano, Fry Family Farm Jalapeno, Fry Family Farm Orange Bell Pepper, Wandering Roots Roma Tomato, Wandering Roots Tomatillo, Wandering Roots Garlic, Blue Fox Farm Cilantro, Blue Fox Farm Tomato, and Whistling Duck Red Onion.


PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Made by Pedro Galaviz of Jacksonville. Includes the following local ingredients: Wandering Roots Roma Tomato, Wandering Roots Garlic, Fry Family Farm Jalapeno, Fry Family Farm Red Bell Pepper, Fry Family Farm Italian Pepper, Fry Family Farm Mini Sweet Pepper, and Blue Fox Farm Cilantro.


1ST PLACE: Made by Nichole Shaw of Medford. Includes the following local ingredients: Fry Family Farm Orange Honeydew, Fry Family Farm Jalapeno, Wandering Roots Roma Tomato, Wandering Roots Garlic, Blue Fox Farm Cilantro, and Blue Fox Farm Tomato.

Thanks again to everyone who attended, the six brave salsa competitors, the incredible performers and presenters, our amazing local food system, and all the sponsoring organizations involved!