A friend and I started a food blog, EATERAZ.com, in 2009. Once that got rolling, we sought out to throw a national BBQ competition in the middle of downtown Scottsdale. It was a huge success and we immediately wanted to do another food contest and festival, but with another type of food. We asked ourselves 1) what food do people love most? And 2) what food do we love most? We landed on tacos! So the Arizona Taco Festival was born. To get restaurants to show up, we offered a $5,000 cash prize. To get people to show up, we designated that all tacos be $2. And to ensure fair and square judging, we created the National Taco Association set of competition rules and guidelines (which we still use today).What is some background on the festival?
I may be wrong, but I believe we threw the first large-scale, independent Taco Festival on Earth. The event is going into its 6th year and will attract over 30,000 people this year. It’s now 2 full days of taco insanity. Last year, our restaurants served 100,000 tacos to the crowds! The background, besides the story above, is really just that we believe the taco is the most adapted and adaptable food item ever created. Besides celebrating the food and awarding prize money, we’ve always strived to make this the most imaginative food festival around. We’ve had a wedding, chihuahua beauty pageants, lucha libre wrestling, surf/punk bands, art contests, tequila tents, and much more. As other taco festivals pop up across the country, I’d simply like to make sure this one remains the largest and most fun. Maybe it can be a national competition someday.
2 things: I love the attitude everyone has when they’re at the taco festival. It’s nothing but love and tacos. So many smiles everywhere you look. And also, I love seeing restaurants take pride in the competition. Some of the same restaurants win year after year, and that tells me that our proprietary double-bling judging system works year after year.Do you guys run any contests to win tickets ?
We sure do. The best one goes all year: simply use the hashtag #aztacofestival on any tweet, instagram, or Facebook post and we’ll enter you to win VIP tickets. The more people using the hashtag, the more winners there will be.Is there fun for the whole family there?
Yep – there’s a big kid’s zone, and kids under 12 get in free. We always say this event is inclusive, not exclusive. It’s one of the few events where people who want to party and people who want to chill with their family can all enjoy the same event. It’s huge, so they don’t get in each other’s way.
It’s a straight up tie between a classic carne asada street taco with chopped onion and cilantro and an al pastor sliced off a trompo with nopales and pineapple. I’m a huge nopales fan, so basically, anything with cactus!