Tucson Taco Festival

Plenty of restaurants throughout the region participated in the Tucson Taco Festival, which was based on the Arizona Taco Festival held every year in Scottsdale. The event is hosted by the National Taco Association.

Thelma Grimes/The Explorer

There was no shortage of the guest of honor at Tucson’s first Taco Festival on April 28, but there was definitely a lack of shading as temperatures neared 90.

While the 23 judges, who were recruited to participate, were treated to a covered tent, beer and water, guests had to pay a $10 that seemed excessive once we were inside and realized it really paid for nothing.

There were about 200 different tacos offered at $2 each. And, don’t get me wrong, many of these tacos were worth the money. However, in the Arizona heat, you had to purchase drinks and everything from water to simple lemonade was too much money when we already paid $10 just to walk through the gate.

The first Tucson event is based on the Arizona Taco Festival held in Scottsdale, and all are hosted by the National Taco Association.

Everyone from local restaurants to amateur competitors battled for $5,000 cash. The Grand Champion in Tucson was Blanco Tacos & Tequila. I must admit, they did have a great chicken taco.

While the tacos weren’t the problem, the inaugural event will need work in years to come. First, the tents were too spread out at Rillito Downs Park. It would have served the host well to bring it all in a little closer.

Then, execution was lacking when it came down to planning for the Arizona heat. We paid $10 per person for the family to attend the festival, but we had to jump at the chance to find shade from the heat.

While the tequila tent had plenty of room, the tent for the rest of us was not big enough. There needed to be more tents and seating. If the event had been held a month ago, none of this would have been a problem.

For entertainment, Lucha Libre wrestling held matches, which did draw in a crowd.

In all, given the number of people who attended, the Tucson Taco Festival is a success. I just hope that in years to come some of the problems with the first year are addressed.

Again, I will stress, there were no problems with the tacos. We tried, and liked, plenty of them.

The Tucson Taco Festival was held a week before Cinco De Mayo celebrations get under way.

Other celebrations, including a Cinco De Mayo celebration hosted by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance, will be held throughout the next week.

The performances are part of the “street theatre” program, Delightful Diversions, presented in partnership with SAACA.

For more on SAACA’s plans, visit the website at www.saaca.org.

Taco Festival Winners

Grand Champion

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

Reserve Grand Champion

Lodge on the Desert

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