PHOENIX - Thousands of people are expected to attend the 16th annual Food City Tamale Festival in downtown Phoenix this weekend.
Church groups from around the Valley prepare and sell dozens of tamales at the free two-day festival to raise money for their organizations. More than 700 dozen tamales -- that's at least 8,400 individual tamales -- were reportedly sold at last year's event.
This year's festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 9-10, at Cesar Chavez Plaza, 200 W. Washington Street in Phoenix. It is a cash-only event. There will be ATMs at the festival.
We spoke with organizer Susy Ferra, and she gave us a list of tips to know if you've never been to the festival before.
WHAT IS A TAMALE? A tamale is a Mexican dish made up of masa, or dough made from corn flour, wrapped around seasoned meat or vegetables, and baked and served within a corn husk. Like other foods, it is open to as much creativity and originality as the creator.
WHAT KINDS OF TAMALES? Red-chile and green-chile-filled tamales, chicken and beef, even dessert tamales with pineapple. Some tamales are wrapped in corn husks, and others are wrapped in banana leaves.
HOW MUCH ARE THE TAMALES? Tamales are $9 for a half-dozen or $18 per dozen.
IS IT ONLY TAMALES? Nope. While tamales are the focus, Food City will also sell menudo, carne asada burritos and Mexican hot chocolate. There will also be a kids area with small carnival rides and a bounce house; performances by mariachi bands, ballet folklorico dancers, and other groups. Santa Claus will also make a visit.
IF YOU GO:
Food City Tamale Festival (Dec. 9-10)
Cesar Chavez Plaza, 200 W. Washington Street (Washington between First and Fourth avenues)
Hours: Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.