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First ever Tamale Festival exceeds expectations 

-By Dick Mason and Rick Evans

Crowds filled the Pavilion on the Lake for the first ever Atascadero Tamale Festival. Photos by Rick Evans.

Crowds filled the Pavilion on the Lake for the first ever Atascadero Tamale Festival. Photo by Rick Evans.

Vendors ran out of tamales due to large crowd

–Atascadero held it’s first annual Tamale Festival on Saturday. Terrie Banish, who is the Deputy City Manager in charge of outreach, events, and promotions, said this festival was “in demand.” Banish said she expected about 1,000 people, however, said that seven times that number showed up.

“We didn’t want to copy what is already going on in the county. We wanted an event that would attract more folks to the city and also embrace our local Mexican restaurants and the different culture we have in our area, and have fun with it,” Banish said.

A Mariachi band entertained festival goers.

A Mariachi band entertained festival goers. Photo by Rick Evans.

The festival was intended to held in the city’s sunken gardens but due to the possible threat of rain, it was moved to the Pavilion on the Lake.

When asked how she felt the festival went, “Phenomenal!” Banish said. She said that no one expected the crowd to be that huge, wiping-out tamales from the vendors. Many didn’t get to taste a tamale.

Tamale festival atascadero

Photo by Rick Evans.


Banish hopes the festival will remain an annual event, but she did mention the possibility of maybe twice a year.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold and the Atascadero City Council members judged the tamales. They named Steve Sullivan of Shav N Fav Catering in Paso Robles the best tamale maker. Sullivan also won the Taco Day on Traffic Way event last year.

Judges Favorites:

  1. Shav N Flav Catering
  2. Los tamales Pablanos
  3. Mr. C’s Catering

People’s Choice – Most Favorite Tamale

  1. La Luz de Mundo
  2. Atascadero Apolistic Church
David Wilson, Steve and Mayor Tom O'Malley

David Wilson of Grape Encounters with Steve Sullivan, winner of the “Judges Favorite” award, and Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley. Photo by Dick Mason.


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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at