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Tomorrow is Mesta Festa.  And everyone near and far is invited to come to the neighborhood’s biggest party of the year, held each September in Mesta Park.

My husband and I have lived in this old neighborhood for three years now.  And not only is this the first time I’m planning to attend, I’m even thinking about entering the chili contest, using a modified version of my friend Cindi’s recipe.  And though I may not have a prayer of winning, it will be fun to play.

Appropriately, our lucky winner will receive a $100 dinner for two at Skirvin Hotel’s Park Avenue Grill; I write appropriately, because Bill Skirvin was Perle Mesta’s father and Perle is the namesake of our lovely old neighborhood.  The Skirvins onced lived in a stately mansion over on 16th Street and Lee.  And if you happen to come tomorrow or otherwise drop by the neighborhood, the mansion is definitely worth seeing; but since it’s a private residence, you’ll be limited to the outside view.

Mesta Festa features live music and delicious foods served by local neighborhood restaurants — Big Truck Tacos, The Prohbition Restaurant and McNellies.  And for $12, one can purchase a refillable cup to use for all the beer and wine tastings.  The weather promises to be gorgeous, and the front yards of  neighborhood homes are getting in the spirit of fall, as a few are already dressed for the annual Halloween Contest.

Meet me in Mesta Park —  located off Shartel Avenue between 18th and 19th streets —  between Noon and 5 pm tomorrow.

And if you’re unable to make the party, here’s the chili recipe for your own private festa.  From my life to yours.


2 lbs extra-lean ground beef
3 garlic cloves minced
1 large onion chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
In a large skillet, sauté onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 mins.  Add minced garlic and ground beef.  Cook until brown.  Drain off any excess fat.
In a large soup pot, combine:
Cooked meat mixture
1 can of favorite beans (pinto, ranch, kidney undrained, with or without jalapeno)
2 cups water
3 cans tomato sauce (24 oz. total)
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
Pinch of Allspice
1/2 tsp red pepper (reduce or eliminate for less spicy chili )
Simmer over low heat uncovered for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Adjust salt seasoning to taste prior to serving.  The chili can be eaten straight-up or over corn chips and topped with chopped green onions and grated cheddar cheese.