By Crystal Harrell
The 20th annual Tamale Festival took place on December 3-4 in Downtown
Indio, where over 200 vendors and concession stands were stationed along the streets of Old Town—70 of which being local entrees for the Best Tamale contest.
A parade held on December 3 at 10 a.m. marked the start of the festival, featuring Indio residents sporting traditional folkloric attire while dancing to celebratory Mariachi music and several school bands marching from Miles Avenue to Wilson Street.
Thousands attended to sample various homemade creations that were not limited to just the typical beef or pork tamale. Some of the more interesting selections included avocado tamales dressed in a layer of guacamole, strawberry tamales with cream cheese filling, and Grandma Lupe’s famous chocolate tamales.
A Tamale Festival veteran since the mid-1990’s and enthused crowd-favorite, Grandma Lupe’s Authentic Tamale stand has garnered critical acclaim, as demonstrated by the long line of people wrapped around the block waiting to get a taste of her popular dish. “They must be really good tamales if people are willing to wait in line for that long,” said festival-goer Wayne Rogers.
The Tamale Fest. included a bevy of other attractions, like the IEHP Rad Rider Bike Show where amateur cyclists flaunted their best stunts on ramps, the Jeep-sponsored salsa dancing competition, carnival rides, four stages of live entertainment, and a tamale eating contest for different age groups.
The 2011 Tamale Festival winners were chosen on December 3; categories included Best Overall, Best Gourmet, and Best Non-Traditional. Previous 2010 winner Jackalope Ranch took the title of Best Overall Tamale once again, along with Best Non-Traditional Tamale; Rancho Tamales came in second for Best Non-Traditional. The first place winner for Best Gourmet Tamale was Molly’s Tamales, with Corn Maiden coming in a close second.