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Dinner (frybread) and a movie ('Frybread') June 16
How about frybread and a movie June 16?
In the perfect blend of carbs and culture, Kwatsan Radio plans to host a tasty frybread cookoff followed by a movie inspired by people's comical quest to perfect the art of frying delicious dough.
Organizers say frybread isn't just a popular meal or snack in Native American communities. It's a cultural point of pride, an edible tradition.
“Frybread is a staple in every native community. It goes back to how your mother made it, how your grandma made it,” said Kenrick Escalanti, president of nonprofit Kwatsan Radio. “We have a lot of really good cooks who have been making frybread all their lives. We thought it would be fun to come together and compete against each other for the grand title.”
The frybread cookoff will be overseen by a panel of judges and visiting dignitaries from the World Wide Frybread Association, which represents frybread stands around the country. The cookoff will culminate with trophies being awarded and the public getting a chance to do their own voting — with their taste buds.
Dessert will be a screening of the movie “More Than Frybread,” a comedy about a frybread competition that takes place in Arizona.
“It's a mockumentary-style documentary and it's hilarious,” Escalanti raved. “I watched the movie's trailer and it just resonated with me and my community. I said ‘We need to get this movie down here.'”
The frybread cookoff is slated for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16, in the parking lot of the Paradise Event Center, located next to Paradise Casino. Admission will be free, with each competing team offering frybread for sale.
Admission to the movie — which starts at 5 p.m. inside the event center — will be free for members of any Native tribe and $2 a person for everyone else.
Organizers plan to handpick 10 teams for the frybread cookoff, selecting families who are well known for their version of the popular food. Escalanti added that although all of the frybread will be delicious, he knows it certainly won't be more of the same thing.
“Frybread is so versatile. There is the general idea of how to make it, then there is what makes the frybread yours. Is it crispy or doughy, greasy or fluffy? For the person who makes the frybread, that is their stamp, what makes it theirs. They are renown for it.”
A special visitor at that day's events will be Holt Hamilton, who wrote, directed and produced the movie “More Than Frybread.”
Hamilton's film has been shown at the Sedona International Film Festival and earned a commendation award at the Durango Independent Film Festival. It recently made its Canadian debut at the Dreamspeakers film festival.
Hamilton describes the plot of his movie: “Native American frybread makers, representing all 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona, convene in Flagstaff to compete for the first ever, first annual, state of Arizona Frybread Championship. The film takes a larger-than life turn as four contestants battle their way to compete for the title in the championship round.”
Like Escalanti, the Mesa-based filmmakers knows that frybread is more than just food.
“Frybread symbolizes coming together as a family,” Hamilton told the Yuma Sun during a phone interview with the Yuma Sun. “Every time there's a get-together with family for a holiday or a graduation, etc., frybread comes out.”
Hamilton wrote his first feature-length feature film while serving in the military. He was deployed in a combat zone in the Middle East. Four years later he released the Navajo film “Turquoise Rose.” He soon followed with “Blue Gap Boyz” (2008) and “Pete & Cleo” (2010).
“More Than Frybread” came out this year. The movie's biggest-name is actor Tatanka Means, son of Native American activist and actor Russell Means.
“A lot of people have said they love and can relate with the characters,” Hamilton said. “Lots of people seem to know someone who is just like each of our characters in the move. The over-the-top comedy, too, about a silly piece of frybread is another appeal, I feel.”
The frybread contest and film screening are being co-sponsored by the radio station and the Ahmut Pipa Foundation.
Kwatsan Radio launched in 2010, offering continuous music and programming online at KwatsanRadio.org. The organization is not directly affiliated with the Quechan Tribe but is operated mainly by tribal members and uses the traditional spelling and pronunciation of the tribe's name.
“Our goal is to connect with our community, whether it's through music, culture, food — anything,” Escalanti said. “We are even political, too. We are deeply involved in our tribe's politics. We are advocates for truth.”
Features editor Darin Fenger can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6860.