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The L.A. Taco Festival has grown too big for Boyle Heights.
For four years, the popular late summer food festival –a fundraiser for the nonprofit Jóvenes Inc.– attracted thousands of taco devotees from all over Los Angeles to Mariachi Plaza and its surrounding streets. At last year’s event, crowds lined up to purchase tacos from vendors set up on First Street and packed the plaza, where they enjoyed free music and kid friendly activities.
For its fifth edition this weekend, organizers have decided to move to a larger location just a few miles West. The fifth annual L.A. Taco Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 22, from 12 to 7 p.m., at Downtown’s Grand Park. The sponsored festival raises funds for Jóvenes’ programs, aimed at providing housing for homeless youth.
“Five years ago, Jóvenes was in desperate need of new funding and had an ambitious idea to bring our city together and support our youth by celebrating a food we all love: tacos,” said the nonprofit in a press release. “Somehow, there wasn’t a Taco Festival in LA, so we jumped at the opportunity to close off a few streets at Mariachi Plaza, showcase some of East LA’s tastiest tacos, bring in some awesome bands and create a unique experience where people can get full, have fun and support a great cause.”
Anticipation for this year’s event is high, say organizers, who point to the 2,300 people who have confirmed their participation on the event’s Facebook page.
Admission will continue to be free at Grand Park, where this year’s festival will feature a performance by La Junta and Quita Penas. But tasty morsels served on warm tortillas, mostly from downtown and Eastside restaurants and taco trucks, will be the main attraction at the food fest, a haven for those wishing to find delicious alternatives to plain carnitas or carne asada.
More than a dozen food vendors will include several with Boyle Heights connections, such as Un Solo Sol and Yeya’s Restaurant, as well as a taco truck from Homeboy Industries and street vendors associated with the legalization campaign spearheaded by East LA Community Corporation (ELACC). Famed Eastside baker Viva Los Cupcakes! will also be there, to satisfy dessert cravings. Food choices are sold at competitive prices.
Representatives from Jóvenes Inc. will be at the festival collecting tax-deductible donations for the organization, which claims it has tripled its capacity to serve homeless youth since it began the fundraiser five years ago. Donors will be entered into a raffle for two tickets to a Lakers game.
Organizers encourage participants planning to attend the downtown festival to use public transportation: Grand Park is easily accessible from a Purple and Red Line Metro Station. More information is available at: www.latacofestival.com.