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Thousands turn out in LH for tamales

By Jared Hardy
La Habra Journal

Delicious scents wafted through Euclid Street on Sunday, November 26, as dozens of Mexican food vendors lined the streets to showcase their dishes at the 4th Annual La Habra Tamale Festival. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., thousands of La Habra residents and visitors from many other places lined the streets to partake in the festivals music, food, and culture.
The event has become a yearly tradition of the City of La Habra since it was started in 2014 by David De Leon and Carlee Marshall.
De Leon said the event came about when he saw a need for Hispanic heritage to be celebrated in the city of La Habra, which has a demographic of 51% Hispanic.
The event, was first held in the parking lot of the community center, then the following year the section of Euclid near city hall was closed for the event.
However, every year the Tamale Festival has reached maximum capacity of guests and expansion is required. This year, the Tamale Festival used over 230,000 square feet including most of Euclid Street, portions of the side streets leading off of it, and the entire City Hall parking lot.

The festival had 34 booths lining the street, 27 of which were food vendors and 17 of which were tamale vendors.
Some of the vendors included Northgate Gonzalez Market, La Ranchera Taqueria, and La Central Bakery. Each tamale vendor that participates in the event is required to be able to make at least 2,500 tamales over the course of the seven-hour event to meet up with demand, though some vendors are capable of 5,000 or more.
De Leon estimated that around 80,000 tamales would be sold that day to hungry visitors. One of the tamale vendors was La Habra Mayor Rose Espinoza

Music: Three stages hosted live music during the entire Tamale Festival. Café Caribe Band entertained crowds at the La Habra City Hall building. Timba Tumbao Band performed on the stage earlier. The Soto Band and Mariachi Espectacular performed on the stage at Portola Park.

, who cooked tamales with her team to raise money for the Rosie’s Garage organization.
One of the primary sponsors of the festival is Northgate Gonzales Market. “Had it not been for them,” De Leon said in an interview, “We would not be able to go over the top like we do. They have a tremendous amount of resources, they have the experience.”
Another aspect of the festival is the attempted Guinness World Record, yet to be verified.
De Leon said that they will be submitting the participants in the tamale making class that was held at the start of the event to see if they can set a record for “Most People Learning How to Make Tamales At Once”.
The tamale making class drew over 100 participants that day.
Along with the food was music and culture. Mariachi Espectacular, other live musicians and the Soto Band entertained the crowds on three different stages across the festival grounds.
Children danced folklorico during the day while others showed off their drumming skills at a stage near the park.
The event drew residents from all over Orange and LA county, including Jim and Connor McConnell, who were first time attendees to the event.
“We have family that come to this event every year since it started, and we were invited to come out and meet them,” said Jim McConnell, “We came from Cypress, and of course we’re here for the food!”
The event will return again next year, possibly even needing a bigger venue to contain the growing crowds of people looking for a day of food, fun, and a celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage in La Habra.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.