Pahrump resident and well-known television reporter Deanna O’Donnell is used to playing the role of observer and covering the stories, but this past Saturday the script was flipped when O’Donnell and her 2019 Taco Fest team were the story.
It was just the second year for O’Donnell’s Taco Fest but the word spread quickly around the community and the turnout was enormous, with vehicles filling the parking lots, lining the streets and even taking over empty patches of land as thousands of patrons descended on the Calvada Eye.
Arriving around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, the Pahrump Valley Times was greeted by the sight of bustling activity, the delightful scent of taco fixings wafting on the cool morning air and the sound of mariachi music adding its own special touch to the atmosphere. All around the event venue, attendees were milling about, chatting with one another, devouring the many different types of tacos on offer and browsing the merchandise available at the vendor stalls.
O’Donnell and her fellow event organizers, including her daughter Darbie and Darbie’s fiance Josh Westerman, were absorbed in the work of selling taco tasting tickets as fast as possible to hungry patrons but they took a moment to express their pleasure in seeing everything come together so well.
O’Donnell laughed about her pre-event fears, remarking that she had actually had a horrible dream the previous night in which the entire event was set, the cooks and vendors were all ready but not a single soul showed up. Fortunately for O’Donnell and the nonprofits that benefit from this year’s Taco Fest, that dream did not prove to be a portent of disaster. In reality, attendance was phenomenal with an estimated 3,000 people heading out to enjoy all the eats and entertainment.
“I am very excited to say that I am so proud of how the 2019 Pahrump Taco Fest turned out!” O’Donnell said with obvious enthusiasm after all was said and done. “It was hectic at times, but it was a lot of fun! We were pleasantly surprised with the huge turnout.”
O’Donnell reported that over 7,000 taco tastings were sold and more than $6,000 was raised during the event. The money was earmarked for two local nonprofits, with O’Donnell stating, “We donated a portion to Sleep in Heavenly Peace to build beds for the less fortunate. The remainder of the money is being donated to the Soroptimist Club to help women with education and in their careers.”
O’Donnell offered a big shout-out of appreciation to those who helped make the event possible, including all of the vendors and taco competition participants, which included the Kiwanis Club, 5-10-15 Restaurant, Fifth Judicial District Court, Nevada Outreach Training Organization, KPVM TV, Java Junkies, the Hubb, the Soroptimist/Dust Bunnies Cleaning, the Pahrump Senior Center, Fast Eddie’s, Alice Cummings and the Pahrump Valley Rotary Club.
Others who lent a hand for the 2nd Annual Taco Fest were the Desert Shadows Band, Melissa Marie Fay MVP, James Fay, George Cox, Cecila Thomas, Kathie McKenna, Wendy Stanfill, Carmen Murzyn, Bryan Scott, Willi Baer, Tonya Brum, Linda Fitzgibbons, Dina Williamson-Erdag, the KPVM TV and Ace Country Radio team including Ubaldo Alvarado, Memorie Aldrich-Beauparlant, Gina McKelvey, Vernon Van Winkle, Ronda Van Winkle, RJ Camacho, Alice Jepsen and Kip Magee.
Judges for the event included Ryan Muccio, Darbie O’Donnell, Josh Osborne, Judge Robert Lane, and Willi Baer. Thanks also went out to Regina Zeitlin for the use of an RV, Pahrump Valley Disposal, Joe’s Sanitation, Elaina Smith, Ahern Rentals, Industrial Light and Power, Sue Huff, Ron Frazier, the town of Pahrump, Nye County and the Pahrump Valley Times.
O’Donnell already has her thoughts focused on next year’s Taco Fest, which she is promising will be even bigger and better than this year.
For more information visit the Pahrump Taco Fest Facebook page.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at email@example.com
2019 Taco Fest winners for People’s Choice
- 1st Place – Alice Cummings
- 2nd Place – La Pina Loca for the Nevada Outreach Training Organization
- 3rd Place – The Pahrump Senior Center
2019 Taco Fest Winners for Judge’s Choice
- 1st Place – The Kiwanis Club
- 2nd Place – Fast Eddie’s Street Tacos
- 3rd Place – Wendy Stanfill for the Fifth Judicial District Court