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Let’s Taco-Bout the Arizona Taco Festival

Posted on: October 11th, 2016 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

PhoenixBites has been a strong supporter of the Arizona Taco Festival since 2010 when we made our first appearance as official National Taco Association judges. (It’s a real thing, I swear!) Our Taco Fest love runs deep, people! This year, the Arizona Taco Festival’s 7th year is no different.

We will be tucked away with fellow taco aficionados in a nondescript tent, getting all sorts of judgy. This year the festival is taking place the 15th and 16th of October, that’s this Saturday and Sunday, from 11am until 7pm each day at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Each year the event gets bigger and better and 2017 is shaping up to be the best year yet.

Haven’t ever been to the Arizona Taco Festival? Here’s a rundown of what you can expect (and it’s not just a ton of tacos)!

So. Many. Tacos!

There will be around 50 different restaurants on hand serving up their version of the best tacos. You can get a taste of what they are offering for only $2 per taco. (The whole festival works on a tokens system, so don’t expect to hand over $2 in cash – so make sure you hit the token station before doing anything else.) There will also be tons of drinks and treats on hand. Make sure to make a lap around the field to get a good idea of who is participating and then map out your day from there.

Lucha Libre Wrestling

Enjoy live Lucha Libre wrestling all weekend long from comfortable seating around the ring. Also, get a chance to meet the wrestlers themselves during the meet-and-greet.

Degree 270 VIP Area

Taco luxury at it’s best. Upon checking in at the VIP area, you’ll receive a drink card good for five alcoholic beverages and one water or soda, available at the private VIP bar. There will also be a private Clamato bar for all your michelada needs. You’ll also receive tokens for 10 tacos of your choosing throughout the festival. Inside this area, there will be a tent with shaded seating by Arizona Foothills and, private bathrooms by some company who makes really nice ones, and a Talking Stick Resort DJ stage. Kids 12 and under are free in VIP with a paid adult ticket
*Promotional VIP tickets (labeled “comp”) include drinks only.

Live Music Stage

Saturday’s lineup includes The Amazing Coconauts Band, Pride Through Strife and Fayuca beginning at 12pm and ending at 6:30pm.
Sunday’s musical entertainment begins at 11:30am with 3Nations, followed by The Wiley Ones, Jaleo Band and wrapping up with Ritmo Latino.

Hot Chile Pepper Eating Contest

On Saturday, one of our favorite hotheads, Vic Clinco, will be leading the Hot Chile Pepper Eating Contest. Vic has the world’s largest private collection of hot sauce and I have seen him make grown men cry with peppers that he has brought into the taco judging tent. This is going to be a can’t-miss event!

Taco Eating Contest

How deep does your love of tacos go? Sign up for the taco eating contest beginning at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday and get ready to prove it! All you need to do is be the first person to finish five Loco Patron crunchy tacos and you get all the bragging rights!

Burrito Eating Contest

Maybe burritos are more your speed! Step right up at 3:15 (both Saturday and Sunday) and get ready to receive your handicap. This is not necessarily about how many burritos you can eat, but how you can maneuver through handicaps in order to eat them. Each contestant will be randomly assigned a handicap or two (think wearing horse hoof hands, being blindfolded and having to use a fork, using a teeny tiny spoon or mannequin hands). Whoever finished their burrito first, despite their handicaps, will receive the title!

Taco Award Presentation

Stick around for the closing ceremonies to see how all me and all of the other judges rated that days tacos

People’s Choice Voting at Contest Check-In Booth

Taste all the tacos your tummy can handle and then place your vote for your favorite. Make sure to stick around for closing ceremonies and find out who gets that day’s People’s Choice title.

The Legendary Tequila Expo (from 12pm until 5pm on Saturday)

You’ll find over 100 types of tequila for tasting in the incredibly popular tequila tent. In order to gain entry to the Tequila Tent, you will need to purchase a wristband that contains 10 tasting tickets for $20. (This purchase needs to be made in addition to your General Admission ticket.)

Chihuahua Beauty Pageant

Sunday at 2pm, watch more than 15 sassy Chihuahuas – yes, of the canine variety — strut their four-legged stuff across the Main Stage

Nationwide Insurance Kid’s Zone

The Kids Zone will feature seven to 10 attractions. Some attractions will require an additional fee for participation. The zone will include a bungee trampoline, mechanical bull, hamster balls, orbitron, slides, bounce houses and much more. There will also be lemonade stands, ice cream vendors and shaved ice carts around the Festival. Make sure to stop by the Merch Booth to pick up a pint-sized tee shirt for your taco-loving tot!


General Admission

$12 online and $15 at the door. Children 12 and under are free (when accompanied by an adult.)
Your General Admission tickets will get you access to the event, but remember that you are going to need to purchase tacos and refreshments.

VIP Package

You’ll get a lot of extra perks for going VIP. It starts with 5 alcoholic drink tickets redeemable in the VIP area. You also get 10 tokens for all your taco eating needs. There will be shade and private restrooms (the nicest port-a-potties you have ever seen – no kidding.)

Margarita Lover’s Package

$18 online and $21 at the door
Purchase and receive a Souvenir Margarita Cup and a General Admission ticket. Each time you fill ‘er up, you will receive an additional 4oz of El Jimador Margarita! This is truly a must have for all attendees. Buy yours today before we sell out! This package will be $21 at the door. Buy in advance and save!!

Tequila Expo

$20 online (this is an upgrade package and you will still need to purchase your GA ticket)
The legendary Tequila Expo is a must for every level of tequila drinker. Approximately 30 brands collectively offer over 100 types of tequila and other agave-based spirits. Your ticket includes a wristband with 10 tabs, each good for a half-once sample from any of the brands you choose.

Hurry and get your tickets for the Arizona Taco Festial before they are sold out. This is a can’t miss event!

If you are looking for the best and latest in Arizona restaurant and culinary news, please make sure to sign up for our newsletter, give us a like on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram to make sure that you never miss a bite!

© Taryn Jeffries 2016

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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