Tacos at El Taco Rustico (Photo by Anna Smirnova)

Four-day fiesta, Pueblos del Maíz, returns to Tucson this May

April 3, 2023
By Tucson Foodie

On Thursday, May 4, the nonprofit Tucson City of Gastronomy (TCoG) will kick off the second annual month-long, bilingual festival to celebrate the gastronomies, histories, and food cultures of maíz (corn) in Tucson. This also includes three other North American gastronomy cities belonging to the UNESCO Creative Cities and Délice Networks, thanks to the second year of a grant from Pima County’s American Rescue Plan funding for tourism recovery.

The festival is expanded this year with grants from the Arizona Office of Tourism and the City of Tucson, and TCoG has hired local event managers Galeria Mitotera, Ranch House Media, and Best Life Presents. If those names sound familiar, they’ve worked together to grow the last several editions of HOCO Fest, and more recently helped produce TENWEST.

(Photo courtesy of Pueblos del Maíz on Instagram)

Pueblos del Maíz Tucson will be a four-day celebration of the major role of maíz in Southern Arizona’s food heritage, gastronomy, and culture, centered in downtown Tucson and extending to Mission Garden and Kennedy Park.

Three-Day Fiesta (May 4 – May 7)

The main program, which will run from Thursday, May 4 – Sunday, May 7, will feature a free fiesta at Kennedy Park with street food, cooking demonstrations, a chef showcase, a white-cloth dinner, live musical performances, interactive art installations, and educational activities. It will closely follow and connect with the annual Agave Heritage Festival and Tucson International Mariachi Conference. All three festivals will be co-presenting a concert with La Sonora Dinamita con Vilma Diaz on Sunday, May 7 at the Rialto Theatre.

Collabs with Tucson Museum of Art (May 4 & May 6)

Other Pueblos del Maíz crossover events include a free “First Thursday” May 4th art opening at Tucson Museum of Art & Historic Block, featuring Guatemalan-Mexican-American artist Justin Favela (representatives of his family) and community collaborators, vendors, and entertainment. At the Mission Garden, there will be educational and family-friendly activities on the morning of Saturday, May 6.   

Maíz Showcase Dinner (May 5)

A Maíz Showcase dinner on Friday, May 5 will feature a collaborative menu by local award-winning chefs, restauranteurs, and food artisans, including Wendy Garcia (Tumerico and La Chaiteria), Juan Alamanza (El Taco Rustico), Devon Sanner (Zio Peppe), Sally Kane (The Coronet), Doug Levy (Feast), Ayla Kapahi (Borderlands Brewing Company), and Mary Steiger and Susan Fulton (Gourmet Girls Gluten Free).

Maíz Fiesta (May 6)

The Maíz Fiesta on Saturday, May 6 is free, for all ages, and will feature a variety of maíz-themed street food and artisanal food products. Live music will be provided by regional bands Los Apson, Gertie & the TO Boyz, Los Hermanos Cuatro, and Mariapaula Mazon.

TCoG will announce the recipients of its first annual Food Heroes Awards. Partners contributing to the event’s programming include the Galeria Mitotera, Maíz TucsonLa Estrella Bakery, Ranch House Media, and Best Life Presents. The event will be as waste-free as possible, with a diverse range of local businesses and groups participating.

Fiestas Beyond Tucson

Tucson, San Antonio, and Mérida, Mexico, are all UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy, and Tucson, Mérida, and Puebla, Mexico, are members of the Délice Network. After the Pueblos del Maíz celebration in Tucson, the event will move through these other three cities on a rolling schedule through the month of May.

The four Pueblos del Maíz cities will exchange chefs, share live streams of cooking demonstrations, and host a traveling photo exhibit. Craft brewers in each city will make a special maíz beer and the Tucson version of the beer will be made by Borderlands Brewing Company. 

“A Taste of Pueblos del Maíz” on Sunday, April 16 at St. Philips Plaza will provide a preview of the festival with food by TCoG Certified Chef Ambassadors, live music, and tastings of local beer, wine, and spirits. 

For more information, visit pueblosdelmaiz.com.

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