Things get hot and spicy with salsa competition

Sarah Groman | Lariat File Photo
Salsa Fest will not only include a salsa competition but activities, like this piñata swing from last year.

By Bonnie Berger

Traditions Plaza heats up today as the fourth annual Salsa Fest kicks off at 6 and lasts until 9 p.m. featuring free food, live music and plenty of salsa.

Hosted by Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the flavorful event pits teams of four against one another as they dice, spice and blend their way into the judges’ hearts.

Competition winners will be rewarded for their hard work with gift cards to George’s, as well as bragging rights.

“We may end up having a few other prizes for the winning team,” said Fort Worth junior Eric Schmeltekopf.

Judges will have tough decisions to make as they wade through each team’s recipe, ranging from spicy to sweet.

“Judges will be professors and other fun people from around campus,” said Celina junior and Baylor Activities Counsel member Amanda Honey.

According to the Baylor Activities Counsel, about 35 teams are signed up for the event, each elevating the competition another degree.

“It’s fun seeing what all these people put together,” said Coppell sophomore Brandon Juenger. “There are some that taste good and some that make your mouth burn. Each team seems to have its own strategy.”

Attendants also benefit from the event with Vitek’s Bar-B-Q curbing appetites and the Kyle Bennett Band concluding the evening with toe-tapping country tunes.

Baylor alum and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Ryan Thomas originated the idea for Salsa Fest, drawing the Baylor community into a sense of unity and fun.

In an effort to further multicultural events on campus, SAE incorporates Hispanic culture throughout the event. All proceeds from the event benefits the Children’s Miracle Network, SAE’s national charity.

“It was a good way for the fraternity and Baylor to come together and get the community involved in something that benefits other people,” Juenger said. “It’s a win-win for Baylor students and the community that we like to help out.”

SAE will also be paring with another organization for the event.

“It’s been really great working with Baylor to sponsor and raise money for a great cause,” Schmeltekopf said. “This is the first year we’re doing [the event] with [Baylor Activities Council] and hopefully we can make it an annual tradition.”

Salsa Fest was originally paired SAE with the Hispanic Student Association. However, this year the HSA is not involved.

“Although it was a good partnership, the two events had a different feel to them,” said junior psychology major and BAC executive program coordinator Venée Hummel from Schweinfurt, Germany. “Now we let each program flourish in its own right.”

SAE expects an impressive turnout, raising funds for a wholesome cause and filling stomachs with tasty treats. The event’s Facebook page boasts that 450 guests will be in attendance this year, Schmeltekopf said, demanding extra effort and attention from SAE and BAC members.

“It’s a really important year for the future of the event,” Juenger said. “I hope people stick around for the performance afterward so they can be rewarded for all the hard work they put in.”