La Luz Del Mundo Oxnard took home Best Overall Tamale

ATASCADERO—On Saturday, Jan. 15, locals and tourists headed to Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens to celebrate their love of tamales. Around 10,000 people attended the 6th Annual Tamale Festival, which has become an Atascadero staple. Not even on-and-off-rain could affect the turnout!

The festival started off with a tamale contest, where judges privately gathered in City Hall and tasted 17 tamales provided by vendors at the festival. Among the judges was Atascadero’s Mayor, Heather Moreno, who’s been a part of the festival for all six years.

“I was here from the very beginning. It’s exciting to see how it’s grown,” said Mayor Moreno of the Tamale Fest. “The first year was small, but we had thousands of people show up. We didn’t expect that big of a showing, and tamales sold out in under an hour.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Around 12:30 p.m., the winners of the Fest’s “Best Tamale Contest” were announced. Both Traditional and Gourmet tamales were judged during the contest. 

The Traditional Tamale Winners were: 

1st Place: La Luz Del Mundo, Paso Robles

2nd Place: La Luz Del Mundo, Oxnard

3rd Place: Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales, Pacoima

The Gourmet Tamale Winners were: 

1st Place: Mary’s Cuisine Catering, San Luis Obispo

2nd Place: La Luz Del Mundo, Oxnard

3rd Place: Garcia’s Restaurant, Atascadero

Best Overall Tamale went to La Luz Del Mundo Oxnard!

“It was honestly very exciting. We were working and were able to hear. So the moment when we heard Oxnard, we were like, ‘yay, we won!’ So we all started clapping. So honestly, it’s very exciting,” Liz from the La Luz Del Mundo Oxnard booth said of their big win.

Attendees could also participate in a tamale eating contest and a chihuahua & pet costume contest.

Though tamales are the main event at the festival, the streets surrounding the City Hall were also jam-packed with other food and merch vendors. And not one, but two stages. 

Entertainment was provided by soloist Manuel Enrique and his horse, Mariachi Voces Tapatias, the Famous Dancing Horses, and the Folklorico El Padrecito Dancers from Guadalupe. Steppin’ Out, Los Gatos Locos, Outlaw Mariachi, and Brass Mash all played live sets for the attendees to dance to and enjoy.

You could also find bounce houses and other activities to keep you and your kids busy while at the festival.

The evening concluded with a massive firework show that crowds watched from the Sunken Gardens. 

“We get a lot of people from out of the area coming in for this. So it’s really grown through the years. And we’re excited to be back,” said Deputy City Manager, Terrie Banish.

The Tamale Festival was put on by the City of Atascadero and will be back for its 7th year on Jan. 14, 2023.