There is no greater feeling than unwrapping the corn husk that carefully secures the warm and steamy masa of a tamale. There are options for everyone: red-chili pork, chicken, green chile and corn, and even cinnamon and raisins.
Try something new at the 17th annual Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival at the Casino del Sol’s AVA Amphitheatre on Saturday, Dec. 3. The free event has become a Tucson tradition, kicking off the holidays in the Southwest.
Known for hosting over 10,000 attendees, the event presents participants with tamale taste tests, as well as other foods to try such as fry bread, tacos and burritos just to name a few. The festival will also have local entertainment including Mariachi music and Tejano acts, Pascua Yaqui Tribe cultural dancers, folklorico performances and Aztec dancers.
“It’s a good place to experience a lot of the things that make Tucson, Tucson,” said Jessica Savare, director of marketing at the Casino del Sol. Savare said this event is her second festival in a management position, but has worked at the venue for 10 years helping with the event.
“It seems to get more and more people every year,” Savare said.
The festival also provides the local organizations — like the Knights of Columbus and the Yoemem Tekia Cultural Center and Museum — the chance to fundraise through their sales. Close to 80 food and artisanal vendors will be at this year’s event.
Those who want to enter the tamal contest can sign up that day to try their luck of winning over 50 judges across four main categories of traditional red chili, green corn, gourmet and sweet. Winners will fight for cash prizes up to $750.
“There’s always good things to eat and you can never go wrong with just about any of the vendors,” Savare said. “It’s a whole lot of fun, you never know what to expect.”
17th Tucson Tamal and Heritage Festival at Casino del Sol
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3
WHERE: Casino del Sol AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road, Tucson
COST: Free admission