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First annual Tamale Festival set to hit Turlock
Tamale lovers will be able sample offerings from nine different vendors and get a chance to enter a tamale eating contest for a $500 prize at the inaugural Turlock Tamale Festival on May 1. - photo by Photo Contributed

Another delicious festival will hit the streets of Turlock on May 1 when the Turlock Poker Room and Casino hosts the first annual Turlock Tamale Festival.  Poker room owner Joe Fernandez wanted to bring something new and fun to the Turlock community, ultimately deciding on a festival complete with live performances, vendors and of course, tamales.

“The City of Turlock is doing such a great job with the downtown area and keeping the community involved,” said Tamale Festival coordinator Mario Alvarez. “Joe really wanted to keep that ball rolling with this event.”

There will be nine tamale vendors at the festival, each bringing a wide variety of tamales with different meats and flavors. Tamale lovers can quench their thirst at the beer garden or check out one of the five entertainment acts that will be performing throughout the day. Well over 1,000 people are expected to attend the event.

“It’s going to be a very laid-back, fun environment,” said Alvarez.

One act that Alvarez describes as “can’t miss” entertainment is the band Maya, which will perform at 12:15 p.m. Maya is a popular Latin dance cover band, performing a refreshing mix of past and present hits including songs from Santana and Selena.

 A tamale eating competition will also be held at 2:30 p.m. Registration for the competition is free, but only 10 randomly-chosen participants will be able to compete for a chance to call themselves the tamale eating champion. Each contestant will have two minutes to eat as many tamales as they can, with the winner taking home $500.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Veterans of Foreign War Post 5059 in Turlock. VFW fosters camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts, advocating on behalf of all veterans. After a burglary at the VFW hall earlier this month, the festival was an opportunity for the poker room to help give back to the community organization.

The first annual Turlock Tamale Festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Regal Cinema Shopping Center, 2323 W. Main St. The event will be set up in the three acre lot in between the Golden Dragon Chinese Restaurant and Tractor Supply.