Many families around the country kicked off the month of December with staple traditions like sipping sweet cocoa, indulging in eggnog, and taking the kids for a seat on Santa’s lap while the first snow fell. But in Southern California, they had something better — the world’s largest Tamale Festival.
From December 1-4, the city of Indio kicked the month of festivity off with a mega event, The Indio International Tamale Festival. The festival not only featured an army of vendors selling mouthwatering, handcrafted Tamales, but also a swath of exciting events that highlighted the rich diversity of the Southwest for over 100,000 attendees. Led by Juan Carlos Barajas — reigning Tamale Festival award winner, and now culinary director for the event — this was the spot to get a taste of some of the best local and regional vendors.
Beyond the tamales, the whole family was spoiled for choice with a variety of exciting attractions including a classic car show, Luchador throw-downs, roller-skating, the world’s biggest bounce house, and to top it all off, four days of vibrant music. One of the region’s most progressive musical curators, Rene Contreras lined up over 40 musical acts including the likes of Jaliscan banda legends Banda Machos, LA’s Grammy-winning quartet La Santa Cecilia, local rockstars Together Pangea, Tijuana icons Bostich & Fussible and the LA hip-hop legend and pioneer, The Egyptian Lover.
This festival had it all and truly highlighted the diverse identities and traditions that make the American Southwest such a beautiful and exciting place. This was a quintessential merry weekend, “Cali style.” Check out the gallery of the festival down below.