It's summer in Florida, so we say embrace the heat. What the heck, turn it on high with the Pinellas Pepper Fest at the England Brothers Bandshell Park in Pinellas Park this weekend. Virtually all the booths will set out samples of salsas and hot sauces to taste before you buy, which is a good way to expand your palate and try mixes like carrot and garlic hot sauce or mango-black bean salsa. But let's say you chomp down on a pepper mixture that makes smoke come out of your ears (those Scotch bonnet peppers that are 50 times hotter than a jalapeno should do the trick): Back away from the water bottle. As veteran pepper lovers know, it takes the sugars of milk or bread to put out the fire. Most booths have tortilla chips for tasters or you can plan ahead and have some hard candies in your pocket. The festival also will have live music, family activities, pepper plants for sale, a pepper eating contest, amateur salsa and hot sauce competitions and a spicy lolly lick-a-thon. Entry is $2, 12 and younger free, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. A portion of the proceeds benefits Suncoast Hospice. (727) 423-8433.
Pepper Fest hurts so good, but we have tips
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