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Monday, April 23, 2018

Taco Wars and Cinco de Mayo Soccer Cup

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A celebration of fun, sports and Hispanic culture where the secret is in the salsa

What do you get when you mix tacos, soccer, Tejano music and a Disney movie, and put them all in the same place on the same weekend?

On Cinco de Mayo weekend, no less? A recipe for a festival that one organizer promises – if the weather is good – will “knock it out of the park.”

The first will take place May 4-6 on the fields at LSUS. Admission is free.

“We are a community that loves to eat and drink and be with one another,” said Gregory Kallenberg, executive director of the Prize Foundation and charged with putting together the “Taco Wars” competition. “There are cultures that fit right in with that thinking. When you look at Hispanic culture and Hispanic food, it goes so well with Shreveport-Bossier. It really does.”

Friday night from 6-9, 12 vendors – large and small – will compete for the “Golden Taco.” A panel of celebrity judges will taste and vote, with the maker of the judges’ favorite taco receiving a $1,000 cash prize.

But you – at no cost – will get to decide the People’s Choice award for the best salsa. You will put a token in a jar representing the vendor whose salsa you like the best. The vendor who gets the most tokens will win $500.

“Anyone can make a taco,” Kallenberg said. “It’s the salsa that’s the secret ingredient.”

While “Taco Wars” will be Friday night only, the Cinco de Mayo Soccer Cup will have games Friday at 6 and 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Six adult men’s teams (three from Shreveport-Bossier, and one from Ruston, Austin, Texas, and Tyler, Texas) – all champions of their respective adult leagues – will compete for top honors.

“The quality of soccer will be great,” said Larry Guerrero, the tournament’s organizer. “Some played college soccer. Some have played professionally and are trying to stay active by playing for their home teams. It’s a good mix of young players and veteran players.”

Guerrero, who is president of local soccer club FC Boca, said the challenge of facing good competition was enticing to each team.

“Within a day they confirmed they were coming. They are excited to be facing champions from other cities.”

While the soccer tournament could have stood alone, Guerrero is happy to share the spotlight with “Taco Wars.”

“It’s time Shreveport got another festival,” Guerrero said. “It’s great that the Hispanic community is involved. It’s great to have a sporting event and a festival at the same time like they do in other cities.”

In fact, that’s becoming the norm, according to Kelly Wells, executive director of the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. He says the more activities you have in one location at the same time, the more people are likely to find something of interest.

“It’s kind of like when I take my wife to an LSU game,” Wells said. “She’s not really as interested in the football, but she likes the tailgating and watching what everybody is wearing and all that stuff. … No matter if you like tacos or Mexican music or soccer or if you just want to come out and enjoy LSUS and the unique venue of being out on the soccer fields and bringing your lawn chair and your throw blanket, this is really about coming out and enjoying the weekend.”

To add to the Friday night atmosphere, Tejano radio station KSYR 92.1 will play “festive” music. At sundown, Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation’s Movies and Moonbeams series will feature the animated Disney movie “Coco” on a giant outdoor screen.

“We’re trying to make (the event) where it’s appealing to the Hispanic community not only in the Shreveport-Bossier area, but regionally,” Wells said, “and also something that will be appealing whether it’s from the soccer perspective or the ‘Taco Wars’ perspective.”

While the three days will be fun for you, Friday night will be serious business for the 12 food vendors. Yes, they will be selling their product, but perhaps of more value will be the exposure they receive – especially the taquerias and food trucks that don’t have the name recognition as those that are part of a large chain.

“We went out there and basically shined our flashlight in every corner we could to try to find as many of these restaurants and taquerias as we could,” Kallenberg said. “We’re trying to put a spotlight on a culture and put these people in position where they can be successful.”

Success is something that has been found by many Mexican restaurants in our area.

“It’s pretty insane when you look around and see how many Mexican restaurants Shreveport-Bossier is sustaining right now,” Kallenberg said. “We seem to be a community that truly loves a good taco, no doubt.”

To find out more information about “Taco Wars,” you may visit the event’s Facebook page by searching “Shreveport-Bossier Taco Wars.”

– Tony Taglavore

Restaurants participating in Taco Wars

El Bazar Mexicano No. 2
El Cabo Verde
Parish Taceaux
TaMolly’s Bossier City
Tacomania Cantina
Taqueria La Michoacana
Tienda y Taqueria Sin Fronteras No. 1
Trejo’s Mexican Restaurant, Youree Dr. Uneeda Taco
Habaneros Shreveport
Choego Shreveport


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