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Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival

SUN., AUG. 24, 2003

It’s three weeks into August, and with the monsoon season safely behind us, it’s time to get out and really enjoy the sunshine. Never mind that the temperature’s solidly in the triple digits, and even briefly exposed skin is likely to take on the color and texture of beef jerky if it’s not slathered with a thick layer of sunscreen. This is Austin in August. This is the page that’s torn out of our travel brochure; the hazing ritual for all of the doe-eyed, dough-bellied northerners who’ve come south for a little fun in the sun. Oh, wait … you were looking for San Diego. Austin in August is Phoenix with humidity. Of course, in the desert it at least gets cool at night. Here it just gets dark. People find ways to cope. For the more fragile flowers, air conditioning seems to do the trick. Others swear by Barton Springs which, on a mercilessly hot day, is every bit worth the shrinkage. Then there are those who break down and buy a frozen-margarita machine – an excellent idea if you have a few extra dollars to burn and aren’t a mean drunk. The rest of us just live with the sweat: nature’s natural coolant. In fact, if you’re hot and not sweating, something’s seriously wrong. It’s called heat stroke, and you may want to back off the margaritas for a while. Otherwise, if you’re schvitzing, you’re in good shape. In fact, in Austin you don’t even have to break a sweat to break a sweat. Take this Sunday’s Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival at Waterloo park for instance. Thousands of Austinites will be sweating for a good cause (the Capital Area Food Bank) by doing nothing more than drinking beer, sampling chips and hot sauce, and listening to live music. Beats the hell out of running a 10K, doesn’t it? Youbetcha. Especially since admission to the Hot Sauce Festival is free with the donation of a nonperishable food item. You’ll still need some folding money for things like beer and food from some of Austin’s favorite restaurants, but all in all, it’s a cheap sweat. Think of it this way: When was the last time you got to see Patricia Vonne, Grupo Fantasma, and the Derailers for a can of beans? When will you ever get to see them again for that price – especially with complimentary appetizers?

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