ESCONDIDO — Over the course of Nov. 2, Grape Day Park in Escondido was conquered by the tamale. This year’s annual Escondido Tamale Festival, co-founded by city Councilwoman Olga Diaz with Alex MacLachlan, featured a slew of tamale vendors, a beer garden, clothing and art vendors, live entertainment and more.
“In the first year I was actually the emcee, because I was just here to help,” Diaz said. “But it’s grown. Now I just show up and enjoy the event, so I’m very happy that they’ve been able to grow it, and look at how successful it is, and I’m just proud of the (Downtown Business Association) and Alex (MacLachlan) especially.”
Diaz noted the variety of food, the number of community advocates in attendance as well as the census booth, made it a good opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate with food, music and dancing.
“This is just another point of pride for the city of Escondido,” Diaz said.
A wide variety of performers took to the enormous stage that overlooked the entire festival. Several groups performed, including the shredding flamenco rock band Nightbloom, who were followed by a trilling mariachi band.
A Chihuahua costume contest was also held, in which a parade of the tiny dogs strutted their stuff in costume. The winner, chosen by a former Miss Escondido, was Too Tough dressed as a K9 unit dog.
Several judges went up onstage to announce the winners for the best tamale. The distinction went to Cocina del Charro, and mere seconds after their victory was announced, a considerable line formed up in front of their tent.
The belly dancing group Sohaila’s Shining Stars also performed, twirling a tableau of multicolored shawls.
Featured performers the Aztec Dancers, a group of men and women dressed in traditional Aztec garb, danced to pounding drums, roaring conch shells and shrill whistle blasts.
Alex Wehrung covers Rancho Santa Fe and theatre-related news in North County. He previously reported for The Daily Nexus in Santa Barbara, CA and the Escondido Times-Advocate in Escondido, CA.