Downtown Modesto will once again be the place to be if you’re a taco lover on April 29 as the fourth Modesto Taco Fest will be taking over I St. between 11th and 12th streets. The event will see more than 40 food vendors and a number of activities throughout the day for community members and visitors to enjoy.
“It’s just a very fun family friendly event for our local community,” said co-founder Darrel Wilkins. “It seems like everyone loves tacos, so getting everybody together from all ages and all backgrounds is just wonderful, and to celebrate together eating tacos is a very fun thing. It’s a great experience.”
Wilkins may be a familiar name to many in Stanislaus County, as he was born and raised in Modesto and has served as the boys’ head soccer coach for Beyer High School and Modesto Junior College. In 2018, his event business, Pure209, collaborated with Chris Ricci, who now sits on the Modesto City Council, to bring the taco celebration to life.
“I think Modesto might have more Mexican restaurants and taco trucks than any community in the Central Valley, so I think to showcase those trucks and the diversity of tacos from our local communities is important,” Wilkins explained.
The Modesto Taco Fest went strong for two consecutive years before the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to the fun in 2020 and 2021. The event returned last year to much success, but Wilkins wants to go bigger and better than ever.
“Last year was so good, that this year we are going to be twice as big. We’re up to about 40 food vendors at the moment, where last year I think we probably had 20,” Wilkins said.
Most of the vendors are from the Stanislaus County region, while attendees will also get to experience some Bay Area and Sacramento based food trucks. Vendors who will cook up tacos include C10 Taqueria, Cocina de Alina, Flacos Tacos, Dos Bros Tacos, Marky Marcs Tacos Y Mas, Birria Fuego, Taqueria El Trebol, Taqueria 209 and more. There will also be other latin food options such as Conchitas Truck, Mango Crazy, Oaxaca Tamales, Vic’s Churros, Mely’s Churros and Natalia’s Crepes. Modesto restaurants will also have complimentary chips and salsa for guests.
With good food, there must also be good drinks to compliment, which is why this year the event is also collaborating with boutique mobile bar and beverage catering company, Mobile Mixologist. There will a selection of regular soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages, as well.
Aside from the abundance of flavors, the entertainment is also expected to draw in hundreds of people. The most popular draw in past Taco Fests has been chihuahua races and luchador matches. Traditional Latin music, Mexican bands and Mexican folklorico dancing will take place to further ‘wow’ guests.
Modesto Taco Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $15 for anyone but those under 14 years of age or seniors over the age of 65, who will be admitted free of charge. Tickets can be purchased online at ModestoTacoFest.com or through local non-profit groups, who will receive a minimum of 33% of their sales.
According to Wilkins, past Taco Fests have done similar donation programs, having donated more than $6,000 to non-profit groups. This year’s participants are the Ajax United Soccer Club, Modesto Salsa Bachata, Ceres Earthquakes FC, Modesto Rams Youth Football and the Hughson High girls’ soccer program.
“It’s all about investing in the community to make it a better place,” Wilkins said. “If you invest in the community you live in through the fundraisers and the family fun of the event, it’s like watering the grass and it gets greener, and that’s fun in itself.”
For the latest updates on Modesto Taco Fest, “Like” their Facebook page or follow them on Instagram at @ModestoTacoFest.