Home / Features / Arts & Entertainment / TACO WARS 2024
Tuesday, April 16, 2024



The Region's Fiercest Taco and Salsa Competition

The tacos and tequila will be in evidence outside Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium April 27, and competitors and foodies come together for Taco Wars. From noon to 8 p.m. Latino food and culture will be center stage, presented by the Prize Foundation, Modelo and Maestro Dobel.

Gregory Kallenberg is executive director of the Prize Foundation and creator of Taco Wars.

“This is our fifth year for Taco Wars. It started as an event that the Prize Foundation put on to celebrate the Latino culture in Shreveport. One of the reasons that we did this is we are all about bringing people together under one big tent. The great thing about Taco Wars is it’s free and most importantly, everyone loves tacos. And it’s glorious.”

Kallenberg said it started at LSU-S and what was supposed to be a 500-person festival became 1,500 people in the rain. “1,500 people standing round in the rain eating tacos, and we knew we had something,” he said.

Covid paused the event for a year, and when the festival returned, they moved it to the Municipal Auditorium. “We grew our number of taquerias to make it bigger and bolder and spicier. [At] Taco Wars 2023, we had about 8,000 people,” according to Kallenberg.

“It’s free, and we have live music. One of the big bright spots is we’re having Los Reyes de Mexico. What’s interesting about this mariachi band out of Houston was handpicked by the pope to play for him when he came to Texas.

“We’re also going to have another local band called Los Rancheritos, which is a local Latino band that literally got their start at Taco Wars.”

Fourteen taquerias will compete for the Golden Taco (Best Taco) and the Golden Molcajete (Best Salsa). A panel of celebrity judges will determine the Best Taco winner, and attendees of the festival will be able to sample salsas for free and vote to help crown the Best Salsa winner. Attendees will receive a special token when they come to the event. After they’ve sampled the salsas, all they have to do is drop the token in the appropriate location for their favorite to vote.

According to the organizers, there will also be tequila tastings, margaritas and nonalcoholic beverages as well as sweet treats to finish off the day. A VIP experience will also be available for purchase. It’s described as an opportunity to indulge in the best tacos and salsa in the area, enjoy live musical performances and soak in the vibrant, family-friendly atmosphere, including a kids’ area with free activities.

Taco Wars is a way for taco lovers to try new taquerias in the area and support them.

“It’s important to note that the Prize Foundation gives 90 cents of every dollar back to the taquerias,” Kallenberg explained. “Last year, over $80,000 was put back into the pockets of small businesspeople.

You want to watch the power and the impact of Taco Wars to the vendors to the taquerias? Watch us hand a check back to a woman who gets basically a month and a half of revenue in a day at Taco Wars. It’s crazy, it’s really wonderful.”

Kallenberg is unabashedly enthusiastic about all his Prize projects, and this one is no exception. “It’s truly one of the most amazing times in Shreveport because it’s not like anything else we do. It’s not a fish festival, it’s not a fair, it truly is centered around the Latino community. You’re talking about a community that truly has joy built into it. There’s always a party. The Latino community is those people. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate them, and we’re thrilled to be able to be part of it. We’re thrilled that they embrace us as we embrace them.”

Currently scheduled to be part of the competition are Mi Mercadito, El Novillo, Taqueria El Eden, Taqueria San Miguel, Ramirez Mexican Restaurant, Tamalocos, Taqueria Mi Palmar, Mi Meza Latin Cuisine, Taqueria Flores, Nicky’s Mexican Restaurant, Taqueria La Reyna Del Sur, Taqueria Tierra Santa, La Potranca and La Villa Taqueria.

As Kallenberg explained, it’s also an opportunity for locals to sample cuisine offered by establishments that they may have never heard of before the event.

“You know us, we’re very proud to be able bring these types of events to the community and for the community to all come together.

“This is one of those [opportunities] that the entire community, every color of skin, every socioeconomic level all come together and raise a glass and have a ton of fun.

It’s about the party, and it’s about the celebration. And it’s about Taco Wars.”

You can visit www.latacowars.com for more information and to sign up to volunteer for the event.

The Prize Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2012. Its stated mission is to promote economic growth, workforce development, youth job training, creative class entrepreneurial buildout and increased tourism through education, entrepreneurship, conferences, contests and festivals in Shreveport and Northwest Louisiana. The Prize Foundation operates six major initiatives year-round: Louisiana Film Prize, Film Prize Junior, Startup Prize, Food Prize, Music Prize and Fashion Prize. Each Prize has a qualification process, engagement with economic and cultural resources, and an educational component.



The Forum News