Salsa Fest returns to Wadena Sept. 17

Contests, dance, vendors featured at spice-filled event.

Salsa Fest Hopkins.JPG
Jonathan Hopkins of Prairie Fire Kitchens talks about his hot salsas on Sept. 18, 2021 at the Salsa Fest in Wadena. He had three different salsas for people to taste in the salsa competition.
Pioneer Journal file photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

WADENA — Crunch down on a tortilla chip, give a dance partner a dip and savor the flavor of the Salsa Fest on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Burlington Northern Park.

“One goal of Salsa Fest is to bring people together and enjoy the fall harvest of fresh, locally grown foods,” said Joseph Luetmer, the treasurer for the Central Chapter of Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. He added the free event is also to “celebrate diversity” through music and dance.

The park, located at 100 Aldrich Ave. SW in Wadena, offers a scenic setting for the event that includes contests for salsa, hot sauce and specialty sauces, dance lessons and contests, agricultural classes and demonstrations, youth activities and more.

The salsa contest offers three categories: salsa, hot sauce and specialty sauces, such as barbecue, chutneys, dessert and more.

Participants can enter as many dips as desired. Each entry costs $10 and winners will be chosen by popular vote. Contestants may offer samples at their tables, providing the food is prepared in a commercial kitchen, fresh on site or the maker holds a cottage food exemption. To register go to


Wadena's many events
Events in the Wadena area.

Each category will declare a grand champion, first runner up and second runner up. The top three will receive a plaque and cash award.

Salsa Fest also offers several educational sessions for attendees. This year offers a presentation from a:

  • Researcher at the University of Minnesota who is working to develop and grow varieties of chili peppers in Minnesota. 
  • Group that helps navigate obtaining a business license to sell food products, such as salsa, and understand the intricacies of selling a food product.

“We’re also giving away a grant for a free consultation to whoever wins the salsa contest (for selling the product),” Luetmer said.

  • Minnesota Farmers Market president, who will chat about cottage food laws, marketing and more.
  • Maker of tortillas.

Other events at Salsa Fest include regional artists and artisan and farmer vendors.
Salsa Fest debuted in 2017 about 30 miles south of Wadena. In 2019 the event moved north and found a warm welcome.

Luetmer said finding a venue was a challenge in the previous host city. When Wadena’s leaders heard about the hardship, they “reached out to us and offered to provide significant support,” he said.

Leutmer said he was not surprised, “but pleased” to see such a large attendance when the event moved to Wadena.

A full schedule can be found at

What to read next
Thew said in an interview that her favorite thing about the day care “is watching the kids grow up and watching them learn. It’s so cool – there’s something about it that’s really awesome – something about how their memory works.”
Anderson Saint Georges, chief executive officer of Daystar Recovery Center in Detroit Lakes, was appointed to Gov. Tim Walz's advisory council on opioids, substance use and addiction, according to a Nov. 29 news release from the governor's office. Saint Georges will serve a four-year term on the council, which will begin Jan. 3.
The caller croons to circle to the left, swing your partner, look ‘em in the eye and promenade. Gleeful “whoohoos” erupt from square dancers, the floor aswirl with smiles, Western-style shirts and flouncy, ruffled skirts.
Members of the Wadena County Board of Commissioners and Heather Olson, auditor/treasurer for Wadena County, heard complaints from multiple county residents concerning a proposed 10.37% property tax levy increase during their Truth In Taxation hearing on Nov. 28.