By Crystal Harrell
The Indio International Tamale Festival is a landmark event for the Coachella Valley, offering a tremendous selection of delicious food, quality entertainment, and exciting local vendors. This year, the Festival returns for its 30th anniversary for an extended four-day culinary extravaganza. The Indio International Tamale Festival will take place on December 1st through the 4th, with an additional two nights of programming and a new location at Miles Avenue Park. Thursday and Friday’s hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday’s hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday’s hours are 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A lineup of over 40 musical acts will be featured at the festival, including Banda Machos, La Santa Cecilia, Together Pangea, Bostich + Fussible and The Egyptian Lover. The festival will also include Julio Morones, Imperial Valley musician Eddie Zuko, Coachella band Israel’s Arcade, and Yuma, Arizona trio Conexion Divina.
Historically, the Indio International Tamale Festival draws over 100,000 attendees and hundreds of vendors during the event. Other attractions include the World’s Biggest Bounce House, classic car show, mariachis, roller skating and The Chavela Throwdown with 20 luchador wrestlers throughout the weekend.
“It’s a tradition for my family and I to go to the Tamale Festival every year. My parents went before I was born and now it’s something we can all enjoy together,” said Jennifer Jimenez of Indio.
Admission is free for all ages and attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the convenience and special early-bird pricing of Attractions Passes ahead of the festival for rides and onsite special features.
The 2-day VIP pass includes expedited entry into the festival, admission to the exclusive VIP area, featuring premium viewing of Fantasy Springs Main Stage, three Tamales redeemable in VIP area, non-alcoholic beverages, elevated restrooms, and seating and shade. The All-Day Attractions Wristband includes one admission to the World’s Biggest Bounce House, one admission to the Rock Climbing Wall, unlimited Carnival Rides, and Roller Disco access.
New for 2022, the Mercadito de Noche holiday night market will feature holiday lights, entertainment, food, vendors and attractions on Thursday and Friday evening ahead of the festival. Food and retail vendors are allowed to locate their booth within this zone for an additional fee and they will be able to keep this premium location throughout the weekend.
The Mercadito de Noche, which will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., on each day, will be heavily programmed and promoted to ensure healthy attendance. There will be a non-refundable application fee of 50 dollars per application. Vendors that have a tamale listed on their menu are eligible for a special vendor space fee, as long as they provide quantities approaching 500 tamales per day.
The Indio International Tamale Festival was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and made a triumphant return in 2021. Last year’s seven-block festival took place in Downtown Indio, spanning from Smur Street and Requa Avenue to Indio Boulevard and Fargo Street, with most of the event concentrated between Indio Boulevard and Civic Center Mall.
Last year’s Tamale Festival award winner, Juan Carlos Barajas of Outside The Masa, will return as the culinary director of the event, which features new, local and regional food vendors. The festival was reimagined in 2021, with a new partnership with CUSP Agency and its founding producer, Gopi Sangha, who previously worked as a promoter at Goldenvoice, the company that puts on the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, also in Indio.
“I look forward to the Tamale Festival every year because it’s a chance to eat delicious food and embrace the hispanic culture of the community,” shared Indio resident Paula Ramirez.
For more information on the Indio International Tamale Festival or to purchase passes, visit the official website at www.indiotamalefestival.com.