Seventh annual Tamale Fest brings flavor to McAllen

McALLEN — As the sun began to set, more people began to fill the square here at Archer Park, where the seventh annual Tamale Fest was held Saturday.

The sound of salsa music filled the air as hundreds of people roamed the numerous booths and food vendors.

While providing a family friendly atmosphere, the event also helps benefit the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen.

Tricia Salinas of McAllen grew up as a club member who’s now going on five years working as the youth advisory committee coordinator.

Leonardo Garcia, 8, right, enjoys a tamale along with Valentine Garcia, 7, at Tamale Fest at Archer Park on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez |

“It’s important because it promotes a lot of community togetherness,” Salinas said. “A lot of people don’t understand how important it is to come together as a community with your kids, your families, tias, abuelos, everything. We’re a big community here and it’s important for us to always work together for a common cause, which is unity.”

Salinas, who has attended every one of the festivals, said that she has noticed considerable growth in the seven years the event has been running.

“We are a nonprofit, so it’s super important for us to have fundraisers like this,” Salinas said. “It also shows that we, as a unit and organization, we’re all about the kids. We’re for the kids. This is all for them. What we do is all for them.”

Melissa Astudillo is originally from Chicago, but she has been living in McAllen for 12 years and has attended every Tamale Fest since its inception.

Rosadio Vaello poses for a picture at Tamale Fest at Archer Park on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez |

She also added that these events remind her of her time in the Windy City.

“I love it. It brings back a little taste of Chicago, actually,” Astudillo said. “You have people from everywhere coming out here to try the tamales, just like we have in Chicago. It’s amazing. I love it.”

Juan Garcia of Donna echoed Astudillo’s sentiments regarding his appreciation for the Tamale Fest.

“This is my first time. It’s pretty cool,” Garcia said. “It’s a good time to get out, bring the family out and enjoy what’s out here. It’s not bad.”