HEMELT: Taco Fest delivers multi-cultural celebration to hungry people

Published 12:06 am Saturday, August 3, 2019

Daniel Melendez wants nothing more than this weekend to serve as a large, multi-cultural celebration of what so many of us already have so much fun doing.

“We are really opening it up to anyone who just wants to enjoy good food, music and cold beer,” Melendez said.

“I feel like this event helps a lot of our vendors, who are mostly going to be Port Arthur food vendors, by giving them an opportunity to cater to a new public. It’s a way to push forward local businesses that have good food and might not be known or might not have the right location. Now, they will be on the radar of a whole new clientele.”

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Melendez, president of La Ley 87.7 FM, is speaking about the 2nd Annual Festival del Taco, taking place from 2 to 10 p.m. today and again from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Live music starts at 3 p.m. both days.

Admission and music are free, and attendees have a chance to purchase food and drinks from dozens of vendors.

Last year’s inaugural Port Arthur event was a one-day Sunday blowout, and Melendez knows there is plenty of room to grow.

“Last year it was pretty much a 99 percent Hispanic event, and we realized that a lot of people just didn’t hear about it,” Melendez said. “This year we changed our strategy and opened it up as a general market event.

“Obviously, our core audience is the Latino community. In this market, especially in Port Arthur, there aren’t regular events like this. The idea is to start creating family events that go hand-in-hand with multi-cultural foods. People will have a chance to try foods that you would have to go to a major city to try.”

When we talked this week, Melendez told me he envisions attendees tasting foods from Colombia, Peru, Mexico and across Central America, giving Golden Triangle residents different options without the hassle of travel.

According to Melendez, La Ley 87.7 FM is the only local Spanish radio station. He said Festival del Taco 2018 easily attracted more than 1,500 people, making it, probably, the most-attended Latin event held in Port Arthur.

Melendez feels a lot of La Ley 87.7 FM’s listeners work early in the morning on Monday and typically leave early from or skip Sunday events.

“(Opening this on a Saturday) gives us a chance to cater to a completely new audience that normally doesn’t get to attend one of our events,” he said. “A lot of people get off work early on Saturday and can stay up late to party in Port Arthur.

“We’re getting a massive amount of response from people who are excited about this. It’s free to attend with a variety of live music.”

Stephen Hemelt is publisher of The Port Arthur News.