Hundreds of revelers turned out to celebrate the spicy and delicious 9th Annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival on Feb. 16-17, 2013.
The annual President's Day weekend celebration held in honor of donni sali, a small but potent hot pepper that is indigenous to the island, offered the perfect blend of island partying at the festival grounds and quiet escape at isolated beaches and back roads.
Brave souls and Tinian natives Corey Jess San Nicolas and Tina Marie San Nicolas topped the hot pepper eating competition in the men's and women's categories, respectively, each walking away $150 richer for their efforts.
In the estafao pika (spicy beef stew) cooking competition, Carla Aldan received the winning nod from judges for her flavorful blend incorporating the celebrated pepper, while Renato Esteban chomped his way to 1st place in the JC Café Pikalicious Burger Eating Contest.
In the popular umang (hermit crab) race, a number of youngsters pitted their shelled competitors against each other on a wooden track. In four sets, first place went to Brayden John Santos, Cassidy Dela Cruz, Joseph Cing, and Kimo Adriano.
In more vigorous efforts, the team of the Tinian Mayor's Office topped the dragon boat race, team La Pica Loca hammered the beach volleyball win, Fritz San Nicolas took first in the tug of war, and Susan Macaranas danced away with 1st place in the cha-cha contest.
Rounding out the weekend of fun and festivity, Lorelina Saralu won top honors in the mwarmwar (Carolinian head lei) making competition, and Mariana Cruz pocketed $150 for having the best-decorated booth at the venue.
The annual Tinian Hot Pepper Festival is held on Presidents Day weekend in February was organized by the Marianas Visitors Authority and co-sponsored by the Tinian Mayor's Office, 13th Tinian Municipal Council, Department of Public Safety (Traffic/Boating Section), Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofschneider, KKMP, J.C. Café', MARPAC, Star Marianas Airlines, IT&E, Lucky Qiang Market , Star Marine Sports and Fleming Hotel. (MVA)