by Stacey Kuhns
On Saturday, November 14, 2015, my friend and I decided to check out the Escondido Tamale Festival in Grape Day Park.
The promoters had done quite a bit of advertising for this event so we were expecting it to be pretty amazing. We were greatly disappointed. The event was set up very poorly.
The food and drink booths were inside a chain link fence, a small area. There were approximately five vendors selling tamales and the rest were selling other food and drink items, including alcohol. The area for all of this was very small. The lines were extremely long and you could not tell which line went to which booth unless you followed it all the way to the front.
We first tried two kinds of tamales at the truck with the longest line. A green chili tamale and a red pork tamale. They looked good.
Unfortunately, the green chili tamale was extremely dry-seemed like it had not been steamed long enough. The red pork tamale was good, but not fantastic.
I was really expecting to be blown away by the tamales and I have had a number of homemade tamales over the years. My friend bought some last month from a lady selling them in a grocery store parking lot, $1.50 each, and they were delicious. These were $3 each and not worth the money.
We then tried the lobster tamales which a number of people were raving about. $6.50 each. They were better than the others, but still, did not knock my socks off. Most all of the food booths had only two people working so the lines moved very slowly. I heard from another friend who attended the festival who was also not impressed and commented on the long lines.
The tamales were made by a food truck group that was on Shark Tank and a number of other shows. They also had lobster rolls (about $15 each and small, which we decided not to try) and other seafood items.
In the largest area of the park, they had set up vendors selling shirts and other items, as well as insurance companies, banks, etc. Hardly anyone was visiting these booths, yet they were given the largest area. It did not make sense. Also, for those who are familiar with Grape Day Park, it is known for a large population of the homeless. It appears law enforcement had cleared the park, for the most part, for the festival.
The best part of the entire festival was not the food, but the children dancers. They were adorable and fun to watch. Would I ever go back? Negative.