Tell me this: What makes the Pueblo identity? It could be a lot of things. For some, bad; for others, good.
For Dalton Milberger and many others, though, the answer is quite simple: it’s green chile.
“For the majority of the public, [green chile] plays a huge role,” says Milberger, President of Pueblo Chile Growers Association. Son of Shane Milberger who founded the local farm on the Mesa over 30 years ago, Dalton is one of the many who sees green chile as not only a symbol for our city, but as a way of life.
“Ask anybody ‘what’s there to do in Pueblo throughout the year?’ One of their first answers is the Chile Fest. And that all started because of the Pueblo chile,” Milberger states.
And he’s right. Puebloans cling to the symbol of green chile as a way of communal identification. I mean, we have an entire festival devoted to green chile. We boast our local sloppers; restaurants compete to make the best ones. We eat green chile year round in a range of dishes, not to mention the fact that we have our own green chile beer and wine. We even have green chile license plates for crying out loud. So, it’s fair to say that green chile has become a prominent part of our city’s identity in recent decades.
But it hasn’t always been this way. Before the generation of green chile license plates and festivals celebrating the pepper, our identity relied in an entirely different market—that is, the steel industry.