Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tamale Festival - 12/20/14 - Somerton, AZ

Saturday – December 20, 2014
Tamale Festival
Somerton, Arizona

We attended the 8th annual Somerton Tamale Festival this afternoon. This is a one-day festival that attracts over 30,000 people each year. It starts at 11:00 a.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m. The festival was already overflowing with people when we arrived at 12:30 p.m.

Somerton is located 13 miles southwest of Yuma and 12 miles north of the border with Mexico. The event is held in downtown Somerton. U.S. highway 95 runs through the center of this charming southwestern town. The highway was blocked off throughout the entire downtown area to accommodate this event.

A large, raised stage was installed on the north end. Local radio personalities were on the stage providing commentary and music.

On the south end, a section of the street was cleared to provide a dance area. A raised platform was installed for the dance instructors. A disc jockey was playing upbeat Latin music and two dance instructors were showing dance moves to a group of people dancing. We enjoyed watching a cute little girl dancing. She was probably about 5 years old and really did a good job of keeping time to the music.

Then there was a group of young boys and girls wearing blue wigs. Charming!

Miss Yuma and the Tamale Festival Queen were in attendance, greeting their subjects!

We purchased our tickets at a ticket booth. The tickets are $2.00 each or 12 for $20.00. The tamales cost one ticket each. With our tickets in hand, we begin our journey through the maze of 43 tamale vendors to sample six tamales for each of us. There were already several hundred visitors, patiently waiting in long lines to sample the many varieties of savory tamales.

  • Variety of Tamales Offered:
    Beef – plain, green chile, red chile
    Chicken – plain, green chile, red chile
    Pork – plain, green chile, red chile
    Shrimp with green chile
    Cheese with green chile
    Corn – plain or green chile and cheese
    Spinach with cheese
    Chocolate chip

We sampled the beef, chicken, pork (all with green chile), chocolate chip, pineapple and strawberry. All of them were delicious.

As we were departing the festival, a local radio personality was encouraging visitors to compete in the tamale-eating contest. We had no desire to watch a grotesque scene of people gorging themselves with tamales...  so we left.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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