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Tamale Festival returns to Atascadero for two days Jan. 17, 18 

Tamale Festival

Winners of the 2019 Tamale Eating Contest.

–The City of Atascadero has announced that the expansion of the 5th Annual Tamale Festival will be held over two days in Downtown Atascadero on Jan. 17 & 18.

The city prepares each year for the annual Tamale Festival with countywide outreach to numerous local restaurants, caterers and non-profit organizations. Each year the city also attends the famous International Tamale Festival held in Indio, California to gain new ideas to grow in an effort to promote Atascadero’s signature event. They also work to include the variety of vendors from tamale festivals around the state to bring back to Atascadero’s festival. The success of this event has been evident with the growing attendance each year, which has prompted the city to grow the festival to two days.

The expansion will include a Grand Opening Party to kick off on Friday evening, Jan. 17 from 5-10 p.m. at Historic City Hall and the Sunken Gardens. Enjoy music from two major bands, Brass Mash and the Dork band. As part of this additional day, the city is adding a firework show! Weather permitting, it will be a wonderful show to enjoy over Historic City Hall. Arrangements are also being made to include a handful of tamale vendors along with a variety of inflatable obstacle courses and bounce houses for all ages.

The fun will continue into Saturday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the main event, the Tamale Festival. Expect over 30 tamale vendors from across California offering a variety of tamales for purchase from gourmet to traditional to sweet tamales. Entertainment on Saturday will include Emcee Francisco Ramirez along with Medina Light Show Designs, plus a wide variety of music from the Mariachi bands to major dance bands like Los Gatos Locos band and the Steppin’ Out band, plus soloist Manuel Enrique and the Famous Dancing Horses.Tamale Festival

The festival will also include the Folkloric Dancers, bounce houses, Zorb Balls and an obstacle course, plus face painting, balloon animals and plenty of fun for all ages! Close to 80 vendors will be on display offering everything from merchandise and crafts to adult beverages to a wide variety of food vendors beyond tamales to appease everyone’s palate and appetite.

Tamale Festival

The 2018 Best Tamale judging panel.

The contests will return on Saturday too with the very popular “Best Tamale Contest” where all of the tamale vendors can showcase their outstanding work in creating the best tamale. The “Tamale Eating Contest” and the Chihuahua Costume Contest will also return.

The event is free to attend and enjoy the entertainment, but don’t forget to bring your wallet in order to purchase delicious food, activities and merchandise; and be sure to place your orders from your favorite tamale vendor(s) to stock up, as tamales freeze well too!

For those interested in sponsorship, or for any other questions about the festival, call Terrie Banish (805) 470-3490. If you are interested in being a tamale vendor, other food or merchant vendors, the deadline to register is Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. Applications are online at:

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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