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Starting a new Cinco de Mayo tradition

Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2007


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  Silvia Reynolds crowns Deb and Kevin Hayes the first Mr. and Mrs. Dip of the Kenai Peninsula at inaugural Cinco de Mayo salsa contest.

Gringo judges sample the top three salsa entries and select the first Mr. and Mrs. Dip of the Kenai Peninsula

The new Kenai River Rotary Club has staked their claim to the first Peninsula-wide Cinco de Mayo Salsa competition. The first ever Mr. and Mrs. Dip of the Kenai Peninsula were crowned here in Alaska thousands of miles from the Mexican border.


Silvia Reynolds crowns Deb and Kevin Hayes the first Mr. and Mrs. Dip of the Kenai Peninsula at inaugural Cinco de Mayo salsa contest.

If you ask most people about Cinco de Mayo, chances are they’ll tell you that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. In fact, Mexico gained independence from Spain on September 16, 1821. Cinco de Mayo celebrates May 5, 1862, when, in the Battle of Puebla, a small group of Mexican soldiers defeated the powerful French army. So why did the Kenai River Rotary Club decide to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a salsa competition? According to club President Sandra Ghormley, it actually was the idea of one of the club’s Russian-born members. “Sitting around a table one night brainstorming ideas to raise money for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio throughout the world, Olga Weissenberg suggested a Mr. & Mrs. Dip competition. Cinco de Mayo was coming up so it all came together from there and turned into a very fun and successful event.”

Over one hundred tickets were sold to the event. Twelve contenstants ponied up the entry fee to see if their favorite recipe could stand up to the competition and win them the honor of being crowned the first Mr. or Mrs. Dip of the Kenai. All ticket holders were allowed to taste and vote for their favorite dip. Then the top three most popular salsas were judged by an unbiased panel of judges that had enjoyed at least two glasses of local beer compliments of the Kenai River Brewery. The judges were Tom Janz, Steve Mersch, Lisa Roberts, and Becky Foster. Their final choice was a salsa created by Debra and Kevin Hayes, now officially the first Mr. & Mrs. Dip of the Kenai Peninsula. “My former principal Sylvia Reynolds told me about this. I’ve served this dip at K-Beach Elementary for some six years, and she was the one that thought I should enter,” said Hayes. “I’ll tell you what when we had auctions at K-Beach, Deb Hayes’ salsa would go for like $50 to $100 because it was so popular. So this is no surprise,” added Sylvia Reynolds. Along with the esteemed title of Mr. & Mrs. Dip went a $100 cash prize.

Ghormley deemed the event a huge success and is already planning ways of making next Cinco de Mayo even bigger and better, “We feel we were able to increase the awareness of what Rotary is doing to eradicate polio. We are in the final stages of winning this battle and we are excited about doing what we can to help put the final nail in polio’s coffin, so we’re planning an even bigger and better event for next Cinco de Mayo,” said Ghormley.

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