Thousands are expected at Rillito Raceway Park the weekend of Oct. 17-18, when the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance presents its inaugural Southern Arizona Food, Art and Wine Festival.
The two-day event features live music, a variety of culinary-themed contests, family activities, wine and beer tastings and much more. Admission is $5 per person. Children 10 and younger get in for free.
The El Charro Tamale Eating Championships are sure to be a highlight that Saturday. Competitors eat as many tamales as they can in the span of five minutes. The winner will receive a $500 El Charro gift card.
The festival's Saturday schedule also includes a performance by the blues group The Brian Dean Trio, an ice-carving competition and a live radio broadcast of the University of Arizona/Stanford football game (with a keg toss and obstacle course run during halftime).
On Sunday, Oct. 18, festival-goers can take in a fruit- and vegetable-carving contest or catch the Southern Arizona Pizza Games. Area pizza pros compete in a variety of categories, including acrobatics, a dough stretch, pizza box folding and pie spinning. Musical performances by the Larry Redhouse Trio and drummer Chip Ritter round out the day's events.
Throughout the two-day event, folks can learn about wine-and-cheese pairings, take part in tastings and attend lectures by local sommeliers.
The festival also features a salsa competition, open to the first 10 registrants.
Among the activities for children and families are a pumpkin patch, face painting, balloon animals, inflatable jumping castles and various art activities. Scores of vendors will sell art and jewelry as well.
For more information about the Southern Arizona Food, Art and Wine Festival, go online to www.southernazfestivals.org. To participate in any of the contests or to sign up for individual lectures or other events, call SAACA at (520) 797-3959. Salsa contest entrants are eligible for free admission.