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With less than two weeks to go, the countdown is officially on for one of Oxford’s largest tourism draws – the annual NC Hot Sauce Contest. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, September 14 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m in downtown Oxford.
Angela Allen, director of the Granville County Tourism Development Authority, said thousands of people are expected in downtown Oxford next weekend to interact with friends, merchants, fans, artisans and vendors. In 2018, the event reportedly topped 18,000 visitors.
“If you plan on visiting us, just put Main Street, Oxford in your GPS and you will find it,” Allen said.
According to Allen, 40 of North Carolina’s barbeque and hot sauce vendors are participating, along with approximately 30 food vendors and eight breweries and wineries.
An NC Pepper Eating Contest sponsored by Bailey Farms will begin at 1 p.m. and always proves interesting to watch, said Allen. “I love to see the faces of those going through the many rounds and to see who can actually stand the heat!”
The day will also include activities for children, antique car displays, music, entertainment, shopping at downtown stores and dining at local restaurants.
Participants may also see a film crew on site as the NC Tourism Department will be recording portions of the event to include in its Visit NC “Firsts That Last” state-wide advertising campaign. “They will be there to capture those first experiences that people have at the contest, whether it be trying a pepper for the very first time or sampling sauces that are way too hot,” Allen said.
While the annual contest is literally a lot of fun and games, Allen said the bigger picture is the tourism dollars generated from sales tax on travel expenses such as hotel stays, gasoline, food and entertainment.
“Every time a person travels, they are going to spend money,” explained Allen. “All that sales tax comes back to that particular area and destination.”
In her Town Talk interview, Allen explained that the local area has often been easy for travelers to overlook in the past as they drive through via the interstate to other destinations.
“Tourism departments focus on making their location unique from other destinations,” she said. “You’ve got to play up those things that make you stand out. The hot sauce contest is definitely one of those things that has the platform to make Oxford unique.”
To hear Allen’s interview in its entirety, please click the play button below. Listen live to WIZS’ Town Talk Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on 1450AM, 100.1 FM or online at www.wizs.com.
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