An unexpectedly large crowd flocked to the Tamale Festival in Atascadero on Saturday to enjoy the traditional Mexican fare, along with mariachi music and dancing, crafts booths, face painting and tamale-tasting contests.
The city-sponsored festival, billed as a first annual event, had been rescheduled earlier in the week from the Sunken Gardens to the Pavilion on the Lake to accommodate possible rainy weather.
So many people came that most of the vendors supplying the tamales ran out about an hour into the four-hour festival.
Terrie Banish, the city’s deputy city manager of outreach, promotions and events, said she was thrilled by the “phenomenal turnout” but would plan for a much larger crowd next year. “We expected about 1,000 people, and we had 7,000,” she said. “Now we know, and will be growing it for next year.”
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Attendees who bought advance “Festival Deal” packages and didn’t get any tamales will be refunded, she said.
Michelle Gilsdorf of Atascadero left without any tamales and consoled herself with the shave ice she also had come to taste.
“I guess I’ll go and buy some masa flour and make some at home,” she said, adding that she hoped the city would bring back the festival next year.
Atascadero residents Chris and Lynda Horejsi did get some tamales and declared them delicious.
“The festival was great. It has a lot of potential,” Lynda said.
The Atascadero City Council and festival-goers judged the tamales. The winners of the judges’ favorite award by the council were: Mr. C’s Catering, third place; Los Tamales Poblanos; second place; and Shav N Flav Catering, first place.