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Hot tamale! Big crowd expected at annual festival
Tamales come in many forms. Some are sweet, some are not. Some are full of meat, and most are steamed in a pot.
Recipes for the ancient dish vary from family to family, who often pass down the ingredients and cooking methods from generation to generation.
It would be almost impossible to sample all the variants of tamales, but Yuma-area residents and winter visitors alike can taste many types of the famous comfort food during Saturday’s 6th Annual Somerton Tamale Festival.
"We have over 44 vendors and each one is different," said Carlos Anaya, president of El Diablito Arizona State University Alumni, which created the event as a scholarship fundraiser.
"The most popular tamales are beef, pork, and green corn. We’ve had shrimp, strawberry, cinnamon and raisins, and pineapple."
Anaya expects about 25,000 visitors to attend the event this year, and noted it is a great way to introduce Latino culture to those who are unfamiliar with it.
"The festival kicks off with a large crowd of winter visitors. It is a great way for our winter visitors to see south Yuma County, take part in a great community effort and enjoy great food."
The Somerton Tamale Festival "has become a regional event," Anaya continued. "Somerton is the host, but it now represents our regional traditions and celebrates our community."
The festival begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. on Somerton’s Main Street (Highway 95) between Union and Somerton avenues.
Judges will give awards to the maker of the Best Beef Tamal, Best Sweet/Corn Tamal and Most Original Tamal. There will also be a tamale-eating contest.
In addition to tamales, vendors will sell other foods, including kettle corn, corn on the cob, baked goods and salsa. There will also be arts and crafts, jewelry and T-shirts available.
Live acts will provide entertainment throughout the day, and a kids section will provide free activities.
Eliseo Robles y Los Barbados Del Norte will headline the entertainment. Robles is well known for performing norteño, a style of music featuring the accordion that is very popular along the Mexican-American border.
While winter visitors and area residents can attend the festival for free, they must buy tickets to purchase tamales. Each ticket, available at five separate vendors during the festival, is $2. One ticket buys one tamal. Ten tickets buy one dozen tamales.
Proceeds from the ticket sales help provide scholarships to high school students who will attend ASU.
"The event was first organized by ASU alumni who wanted to sponsor a community (event) to raise scholarship funds with food and music," Anaya said.
"ASU alumni in the area recognize the need to reward outstanding individuals who are committed to their education and their community and have chosen to attend ASU in the fall. As a response, ASU alumni award outstanding students a scholarship for their first year of college. It has grown each year, and we appreciate every supporter. "
For more information about the scholarships, send an email to email@example.com. For more information about the festival, visit http://somertontamalefestival.com.
• 11 a.m. - Introduction and Mayor’s Welcome - "Star Spangled Banner" sung by Tierra Del Sol Choir. YCSO Color Guard will present the flag.
• 11:30 a.m. - Treehouse Pipers (acoustic/vocal harmony group)
• 12:30 p.m. - Mariachi Gadsden (Traditional Mexican Folk Music)
• 1:30 p.m. - Best Tamale Awards (Judges)
• 2 p.m. - Downtime (Country)
• 3 p.m. - Phosforo (Spanish Rock)
• 4 p.m. - Chico’s Riff (Alternative Rock with a Latin twist)
• 4 p.m. - Tamale Award (People’s Choice)
• 5 p.m. - MC Magic (Hip-Hop)
• 6 p.m. - Banda SS de San Luis Rio Colorado
• 7:30 p.m. - Los Alazanes (Norteño)
• 8:45 p.m. - Eliseo Robles y sus Barbaros del Norte (Norteño)
• 11 a.m. - Tierra Del Sol Band and Choir
• Noon - Kofa Royalairs
• 12:30 p.m. - Huio O Hawaii of Yuma
• 1 p.m. - Zumba
• 2 p.m. - Jazz of Yuma (JOY)
• 3 p.m. - Belly Dancers
• 4 p.m. - Carver Folkloric Dance Club
• 4:30 p.m. - Rancheros de Yuma
• 5:00 p.m. - AZ Swagg (Somerton Dance Group)
• 5:15 p.m. - Darash Panin Grupo de Danza (Dance Group from San Luis Rio Colorado, Son.)
• 6 p.m. - Battle of the Drums