Good news, food fans — it’s tamale time.
More than 25 vendors will dish out their versions of the traditional Mexican treat Saturday at the Tamale Festival in downtown Atascadero, said Terrie Banish, Atascadero’s deputy city manager.
About 5,000 people are expected to flock to the Sunken Gardens for the festival, now in its third year.
Participating vendors include local food trucks — The Micro BBQ Co., Shave ’N Flav and The Hurricane Kitchen, to name a few — as well as restaurants such as Qué Pasa Mexican Café in Atascadero and Las Delicias de Zacatecas in San Luis Obispo. Garcia’s Tamales in Paso Robles is also participating.
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In addition to thousands of tasty tamales for sale, the festival features a tamale contest with prizes awarded in three categories — gourmet, traditional and sweet. In 2017, Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant in Atascadero and Iglesia La Luz del Mundo in Santa Ana took home the top prizes.
Also featured is a tamale-eating competition. Participants broken into two age groups — 11 and under, and 12 and up — will have two minutes to devour as many tamales as possible; there’s a $5 entry fee for older contestants.
Other highlights include bounce houses, balloon animals, face painting, dance by Grupo Folklorico Nueva Esperanza and music by singer Manuel Enrique, Mariachi Mexicanisimo and Los Gatos Locos.
Admission to the 2018 Tamale Festival, which runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, is free. (Tamales cost $3 apiece, and there are additional food and drink options.) For information, call 805-470-3360 or visit www.atascadero.org.