One of the less-publicized, highest-quality eating experiences that I’ve ever had in Shreveport-Bossier was at the State Fair of Louisiana’s Tamale Showdown a few years back. This tamale cooking contest, which returns to the State Fair on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, tends to attract some of the best Latinx home cooks in the region, with $1,500 in cash prizes and bragging rights up for grabs. Here’s the official event listing on the State Fair’s website and here’s the Facebook event, if you’d like to RSVP to attend. Here’s the entry form, if you’d like to toss your hat into the ring. The event will be held, 3-5 p.m.
To answer the most obvious question: Yes, the public will be able to eat some of these awesome tamales. The public will sample tamales and cast their votes for the $500 People’s Choice Award, 3-4:30 p.m. For additional information, questions or concerns, please contact Ms. Vita Riner at 318-286-5407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the exciting elements of this cook-off is just how popular it is. Just a few days after announcing that the event would return in 2018 – before any publicity push had really begun – the State Fair of Louisiana reported that 20 entries had been received. Organizers will be capping the number of participants at 50. There is no fee to enter the competition and entries must be received by Oct. 29.
Another great thing about the Tamale Showdown is that it takes place on the same day as “Fiesta at the Fair,” a celebration of Latinx cultures that includes a well-known touring act (this year’s headliner is La Energia Norteña at 8 p.m.) as well as a car show, mariachis, and more.
I ate the best tamales I’ve ever eaten (pictured) at this event several years ago. That year, the prize went to Alma Rios-Rivera, whose incredible, Veracruz-style tamales were a highlight of her short-lived but fantastic restaurant, La Costenita. If you’re crazy about tamales, this event is not to be missed.
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So, who won?
I just heard back about who won the Tamale Cook-Off. Here are the results:
First Place: Maria Fajardo from Henderson, TX
Second Place: Ramona Egulo from Shreveport, LA
Third Place: Shirley F. Murphy from Keithville, LA
People Choice : Ramona Egulo from Shreveport, LA