ATASCADERO — Plans were already underway for the City of Atascadero’s 5th Annual Tamale Festival in 2020 even as local pigeons went to work on the last few crumbs of cornmeal left around the Sunken Gardens on Saturday, Jan. 19.
The City hosted their 4th Annual Tamale Festival without a hitch Saturday, with 32 tamale sellers and 80 total vendors, said event planners.
Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish noted ahead of the event that they’d made an effort to draw more prize winners from other festivals. And that seems to have encouraged local restaurateurs to step up their game, as San Luis Obispo County vendors joined the ranks going toe-to-toe with vendors from California’s Central Valley and Southern California, including the locales of Anaheim, Bakersfield, Hemet, Huntington Beach, Riverside
Unofficial attendance was estimated at 15,000 to 17,000 people, although sales records from tamale vendors may refine that number, Banish said.
Categories for tamale judging were: Sweet, Gourmet and Traditional with — drumroll — Garcia’s Restaurant of Atascadero taking the top prize for both People’s Choice and the Traditional style.
With each booth given a printed “QR-code” sign and a number for attendees to log into the “Survey Monkey” web portal with and vote from their smartphones or mobile device, the 2019 People’s Choice awards were tallied officially on Tuesday. The aforementioned Garcia’s in first was followed closely by Paso Robles-based La Luz Del
Judges Favorites for 2019 broke
City Manager Rachelle Rickard offered winners congratulations during her update on the event to the City Council on Tuesday evening, also mentioning the happy return of Soloist Manuel Enrique and his Dancing Horses with the Mariachi Mexicanisimo Band in front of City Hall.
A successful first for the event was the “Chihuahua Contest and Fashion Show,” presented by Woods Humane Society of the North County. Winner of the first-place trophy was a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix in the role of the steed with a small cowboy on her back.
Tamale Eating Contest winner for ages 12 and up was Shawn Romagno finishing five tamales in under 2 minutes with Daniel Nava taking first with two tamales for the under 12 set.
As for those pigeons after the event, one of the unusual attractions was displayed by Samantha Jackson of the Falconry Experience. Residents might get used to seeing her with the Arizona Harris Hawk which will be flown in the area under future plans with the City to scare away the other birds.