VACAVILLE — The crowd at Fiesta Days was feeling the heat, but not as much as the competitors who faced a plate full of jalapeno peppers.
Sunday was “Hispanic Day” during the annual festival at Andrews Park, and the Jalapeno and Onion Eating Contest proved popular as people surrounded the main stage to watch groups of men and women eat their vegetables.
Host Danny Murillo, of Murillo’s Mexican Food, warned the first group of women about the small, white salad onion placed in front of them.
“Barbecue them, and they are the most sweetest and delicious things you’ll ever eat,” Murillo said. “But if you eat them raw they taste like – not very good.”
Vacaville resident Crystal Espitia, a former champion, was declared the winner after chewing and completely swallowing her onion faster than several other women. Espitia had won the event seven consecutive times in the past and found a way to score another victory.
“I think of my family, they’re all here,” she said.
Espitia received a trophy, a T-shirt and bragging rights as the “2014 Onion Queen.” Then it was on to the peppers.
Teen Miss Vacaville Cynthia Dominguez was prepared for the challenge.
“I love jalapenos,” said the pageant winner. “I eat them with everything.”
Dominguez said she adds the pepper to potatoes and sandwiches and also enjoys jalapeno chips and jalapeno ice cream.
“A lot of Mexican candy has jalapeno spice, so I’m pretty used to it,” she said.
Dominguez’s planned strategy was mental.
“In my mind, I’m thinking I’m going to win, and usually when I have that mindset I’m successful, so I’m just going to stay positive.”
But competition was fierce and there were several peppers to be eaten.
“All that should be left on your plate is a stem,” Murillo said.
Once again, Espitia, the “Onion Queen,” came out on top.
Other winners included Bill McMillan, of Vacaville, in the men’s onion-eating contest and Fidel Mendoza, of Vacaville, in the men’s pepper-eating contest.
Fiesta Days continues Monday with a Memorial Day commemoration at 11 a.m., carnival from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fiesta Garden food and beverages from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Family Fun Zone from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. featuring Zumba and U-Jam from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Markham Elementary Ballet Folklorico at 3 p.m. Live music performances include the Kenny Frye Band from 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and Rhythm Method from 4:15 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.