By Denise Ortuno
Tasty tamales and the stunning Festival of Lights Parade usher in December fun in the Coachella Valley. It is a much anticipated time when two popular holiday events take place from Palm Springs to Indio, in one festive weekend for all to enjoy!.
I seriously have been looking forward to the Indio International Tamale Festival since last years ended. It is one of my favorite events in the Coachella Valley, which makes food its main attraction. The festival started back in 1992 and grown to be one of the Top Ten best food festivals in the nation with good reason.
Tamale making is a traditional holiday ritual in the Hispanic community, bringing families together in the kitchen for this special time of year, making the timing of the tamale festival apropos. The event has a multitude of vendors, selling a variety of mouthwatering tamales. They come in all different flavors from traditional pork, beef, chicken, chili or cheese, to gourmet tamales which have a limitless range. Gourmet tamales feature flavors such as game meat, BBQ and even dessert tamales with strawberry and pineapple just to scratch the masa.
Like I mentioned in past tamale focused articles, my favorite tamale is the Chicken Mole tamale, which I discovered 3 years ago at the Tamale Festival. Since that fateful day, I have been going back to the festival in search of that same tamale and have come up tamale-less. Last year, as I was perusing vendor’s booths looking for my fave tamale, I crossed paths with what would become a new fave of mine, the Pink Taco food truck from Los Angeles. They were handing out tamale samples, but most people seemed hesitant to try them. It may have been the rather loud rock music that they were playing….it was a little intimidating. But I’m not one to pass up a free tamale, so I went for it. It was actually the best tamale I had tasted that day. I went on to try one of their tacos which was fantastic! Gourmet all the way down to the tiny taco cradle that they served it in. So this year, I have two things that I will be seeking at the Tamale Festival. One will be my perfect Chicken Mole Tamale of years gone by, and the second will be the Pink Taco food truck! But who knows, maybe I will find something scrumptiously new this year. Because you never know what can happen at the deliciously fun Indio International Tamale Festival!
The Tamale Festival is located in Old Town Indio and offers up a traditional Fair ambience besides all of the delicious tamales. Admission is FREE, and Festival goers can also enjoy rides, musical entertainment, beer gardens and other Fair type goodies (fried Twinkie’s anyone?) and vendors.
The Indio International Tamale Festival takes place on Saturday, December 2nd from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday, December 3rd from 10am to 5pm.
After gorging on tamales all day on Saturday, December 2nd (and hopefully finding my Chicken Mole Tamale), I will be marching on over to the fabulous 25th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Palm Springs. The parade has an old school hometown feel, with a strong dose of holiday fashioned Americana. Enjoy brightly lighted floats, lighted vintage cars with local celebs (and some world-renowned), marching bands, specialty performers and of course…Santa! The approximate 100,000 (and growing) attendees that flock to Palm Springs every year can’t be wrong…right? Definitely right! The parade is so popular that it has been named one of the Top 10 Holiday Parades in the nation in an AOL survey.
The parade is FREE and starts at 5:45pm, but I plan to get there early to stake my claim on the parade route on Palm Canyon. Parade enthusiasts such as myself, are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets (it will be cold this weekend) and snacks. If you’re not into ruffing it picnic style, restaurants along the canyon will give those who wish to dine and gaze at the movement of lights a front row seat in style.
From Palm Springs to Indio, Tamales and the Festival of Lights Parade set the stage for December fun in the Coachella Valley for all to enjoy, and definite favorites of The Palm Springs Local!
For more information of the Tamale Festival visit www.tamalefestival.net
For more information on the Festival of Lights Parade visit www.psfestivaloflights.com