A contest indicates competition and the Hot Sauce Contest held in downtown Historic Oxford certainly has its share of that. Recipes that have been passed down from grandma or established through many trials (and likely many errors) compete for the title of the Best or the Hottest. Hot Sauces come from all around the state of North Carolina to present these flavorful concoctions for tasting and for sale. Beer and wine makers also join in the fun and those who follow the heat try them all.
But this event brings far more than just a contest. Artists and crafters bring their wares and set up throughout the town. There was pottery, jewelry and items made of wood; soaps and candles; cards and magic tricks. I set up a booth this year in which I sold Seashell Greeting Cards / Note Cards to support the building fund for the Oxford United Methodist Church and Photographic Note Cards depicting historic houses, buildings or closeup pictures I'd taken around town. My brother shared that booth, entertaining the crowd with magic tricks which he also had for sale. He's been doing tricks since he was about five years old, so he was amazing even the most observant audiences. We didn't make a fortune at the event but we sure got richer as we shared space with each other, and time with former friends and neighbors.
Children are able to enjoy bounce houses and get their faces painted; Civic groups promote their causes and the Friends of the Library have their biggest book sale of the year. There is a vintage car show and an agricultural display; food trucks and music. Although the heat is generally not just in the sauce, early morning of this year's event brought overcast skies and a slight breeze. As the day heated up, so did the festival atmosphere and people hung around until closing time and beyond.
Each year the Hot Sauce Contest grows in the way of vendors, space used and participants. The word is there were over 15,000 in attendance this year and almost all of the downtown was utilized for the event. Thanks to the organizers and all who were in Oxford on this day, the NC Hot Sauce Contest was successful once again.