To Pittsburghers, there are few phrases that sound quite as enticing as “taco festival.”
Although the 2nd Pittsburgh Taco Festival is nearly three months away, an impressive 36,000 people on Facebook have expressed interest attending the event.
As overwhelming as that may appear, the popularity surrounding the festival isn’t news. When the first rendition of the Pittsburgh Taco Festival debuted in 2016 no one – not even the organizers of the event – realized how big it was going to be.
Held in the lot next to Hop Farm Brewing, the original taco festival was a test-dummy for hosting a taco event at this scale. There were some hiccups, and unfortunately many attendees fell victim to the side-effects. Space was cramped. Lines were impossibly long. And, worst of all – there we’ren’t enough tacos.
The organizers of the Pittsburgh Taco Festival say that they’ve learned from last year’s event, and have addressed these issues head-on.
On Saturday, May 19, they’re going to give Pittsburgh the taco festival the city has been (patiently) waiting for.
“I don’t think anyone had any idea about the intense response at the initial event,” says Craig McCloud of Popsburgh, one of the organizers of the event.
One of the main differences for Taco Fest 2.0 is the fact that it will be held at Highmark Stadium, home to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Soccer Club. This will provide much more space for vendors and guests. Additionally, attendees will be able to relax and enjoy their tacos in the stadium’s grandstand seating.
The festival is also working to iron out a few of the other issues from the original festival.
“We have a better strategic plan for the vendors getting into stadium,” says Gina Vensel, an organizer of the event. “They can’t come late. Also, partnering with Highmark allows us to have room for more vendors.”
Currently, the festival has 22 confirmed vendors, with many more on standby. Even so, there’s room for more. If you’re favorite taco isn’t on the list, be sure to reach out to the festival and suggest it.
Some of the vendors currently set to be at the event include Vagabond Taco Truck, Brisket Burgh, Edgar’s Best Tacos, Condado Tacos, and Bea Taco Town. The festival plans to have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
At an event this size, lines are inevitable. However, the festival is hoping to combat this with plenty of live music and entertainment. Additionally, because they are partnering with Highmark Stadium, there will be mobile beer vendors wandering the stadium. So yes, this means you don’t have to jump out of line to grab a brew.
The Pittsburgh Taco Festival is family-friendly event, and will have a special kid’s zone with inflatables. Additionally, children under five get in for free.
Tickets are $9 for general admission, and $49 for VIP. Tacos are not included and vendors are cash-only for the sake of efficiency. Because the event is at Highmark Stadium, the festival must use TicketMaster, which has a processing fee. To avoid this, folks can go to Highmark Stadium (during its business hours) to purchase the tickets at face value.
Overall, the McCloud says that the event organizers really wants the vendors to succeed. Tickets are necessary to cover insurance and set-up, but each vendor creates their own menu and keeps 100% of the profits.
The festival has been communicating with the Latin American community of Pittsburgh to ensure they are represented and celebrated at the event.
“The first time around was our trial run, our learning experience,” says McCloud. “We were able to put together a good team this year. We are ready to make it a bigger and better.”