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Pahrump Taco Fest making a comeback

Taco-lovers rejoice, the Pahrump Taco Fest is making its return after several years’ hiatus. This June, the Calvada Eye will be overrun with competitors all hoping to score the title of best taco-maker in town and foodies will definitely not want to miss out.

“I am so excited to bring back this fun and tasty event,” Taco Fest organizer Deanna O’Donnell told the Pahrump Valley Times this week. “I can’t wait to see the creativity of the taco cooks. I hope it takes off and everyone has a great time!”

The Pahrump Taco Fest, which is a fundraiser at heart, got its start in 2018 when O’Donnell learned of the looming demise of one of the valley’s nonprofits, the Southern Nye County 4-H Club. As someone who strives to support her community however she can, O’Donnell cast about for a way to raise some money for the club. Knowing that almost no one can resist the temptation of tortillas stuffed with savory filling, she decided upon Taco Fest and the event was a hit right out of the gate.

“A total of $9,000 was donated from that year’s festival, which was held during the Wild West Extravaganza and Blue Grass Festival at Petrack Park,” O’Donnell detailed. “In 2019, the event moved to the Calvada Eye. That year, the Pahrump Taco Fest donated $6,000 to the Soroptimist International of Pahrump Valley, to help them pay for scholarships for women in our area to go back to school. We also donated $600 to Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who have no bed of their own.”

Of course, 2020 brought the COVID-19 pandemic and as happened with nearly every other community event, O’Donnell was forced to cancel the Pahrump Taco Fest. Now, nearly five years after the last one was held, the festival is set to make a comeback and O’Donnell is anticipating a triumphant revival.

This year’s Taco Fest recipients will be the Pahrump Inter-tribal Social Powwow and the cheer teams from both Rosemary Clarke Middle and Pahrump Valley High schools.

“I am the official organizer and I take no money from the event, which costs me more than I’d be willing to admit,” O’Donnell remarked. “I do all the promotion for the event but I ask that the nonprofit that will benefit handle the money, and I usually pick a different nonprofit in need each time. I also require that the nonprofit volunteer their time to helping organize the event with me and volunteer the day of the event.”

Vendors can get in on the festival for $50 per booth and those wishing to take part in the cooking contest can sign up for just $25. “A group can get together and cook tacos or they can even sponsor someone they know,” O’Donnell noted.

Due to the need for each taco competitor to secure a health permit beforehand, the deadline to sign up for the contest is Wednesday, May 15.

Judging the Taco Fest competition this year will be five local notables, including Fifth Judicial District Court Judges Kim “The Hammer” Wanker and Robert Lane, Pahrump Justice of the Peace Michelle Fiore, Nye County Sheriff Joe McGill and KNYE Radio owner and personality Karen Jackson. Attendees will get the chance to have their say on the best tacos, too, with the People’s Choice award up for grabs as well. Taco tastings will be on sale for $1 each or tasters can snag a pack of 12 for $10.

“The Pahrump Taco Fest vendor and cook applications can be picked up and dropped off at Westfield Jewelers, 1360 Matthew Lane, in the Smith’s Shopping Center right next to Taco Bell. The forms can also be downloaded from the Pahrump Taco Fest Facebook page,” O’Donnell said. “If anyone needs a sign or banner to put on their booth, or if you are a business or a politician who wants to place a sign or banner at the Eye during the event, Pahrump Print Solutions has special Taco Fest pricing! Call Stacy Jenson at 775-537-5575 or stop by 1201 S. Hwy. 160, Suite 105, across the street from Saddle West.”

The Pahrump Taco Fest is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 at the Calvada Eye. For more information visit the Pahrump Taco Fest Facebook page.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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