Salsa Showdown looks to be muy caliente - Wharton Journal-Spectator: Life And Leisure

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Salsa Showdown looks to be muy caliente

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Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2019 7:19 pm

The inaugural Texas Salsa Showdown will occur two weekends from now and officials with the event have been making the rounds around Wharton promoting it, telling many how fun it is going to be with the hopes of making this an annual event.

The latest promotional stop was a weekly luncheon of the Wharton Lions Club inside the Wharton Civic Center on Thursday, May 2.

The Texas Salsa Showdown, which will be held inside and outside of the same building on Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, will bring together events that are both familiar to visitors, and new ones, too.

Amy Morales, who has been associated with the Monterey Square Wine & Arts Fair, said when the idea of a salsa showdown came into play, things skyrocketed. 

“It went from who has the best salsa in Wharton to let’s have this blowout event in May,” said Morales, with Kapeesch Marketing, LLC, one of the organizers hosting the Texas Salsa Showdown. 

There will be a lot of food and beverages available to eat and drink. On Friday, Los Cucos Cantina will get started in the center’s O’Quinn Room. There will also be food trucks on the civic center grounds.

On Saturday is when various contests begin and will be set up tailgate style. There will be fajita, charro beans, chef’s choice cook-off and outdoor, a hot pepper eating contest, and of course – the Texas Salsa Showdown tasting and judging.

“We would like contestants to let us know what they are going to enter; we’re encouraging anyone who knows how to cook any of these foods to enter,” Morales said. “It will be a lot of fun.”

Vince Morales, who was standing next to his wife, Amy, as she was providing information on the event, said people can still be part of this. 

The Texas Salsa Showdown is still signing up vendors, sponsors, cook-off entries, as well as commercial, restaurant and home chef salsa entries, and also hot pepper eaters. There is a $10 entry fee to compete. Contestants will begin submitting their food entries beginning around noon and staggered until 5 p.m.

So far, one of the judges is Mayor Tim Barker, said Vince, who has also been involved with the downtown’s wine fair.

Car show’s second year

As Lions Club member David Schroeder heard organizers Amy and Vince Morales speak about the various events that will occur, he feels it will be successful.

Amy said having the event on the Wharton Civic Center grounds has given them much more leeway.

“It’s great that you’re feeding on things that have been good for Wharton and making them larger,” Schroeder said.

He was alluding to the car show, which will be hosted by the Wharton Police Department once again, and new to the show is a veterans’ salute. 

The second Cops N Rodders Car Show will be held May 18 in conjunction with the Texas Salsa Showdown in the Wharton Civic Center parking lot. According to Wharton PD, this is an open car show with numerous categories. There will be at least 30 awards given to participants who bring their “oldies, classics, muscle, rat-rods or trucks.” There is a $20 participant entry fee, but the event is free to spectators.

You can pre-register at Pekar’s Body Shop, 2720 North Richmond Road, in Wharton.

Registration is available on the day of event is at 8 a.m. Judging begins at noon, with winners announced at 2 p.m.

And, for those who come to the car show and partake in the Salsa Showdown’s culinary festivities, you may also be allowed to consume alcohol when car viewing and/or registration begins at 8 a.m., Vince said. He also said the judging will be at noon and the winners will be announced at 2 p.m. 

“That’s the way it’s being planned. At the same time the registration starts, Los Cucos Cantina will be set up inside the main auditorium of the civic center,” Vince said. “Those guys who are competing in the car show are going to be allowed to drink. I was told some of them are going to want to drink, even if it’s early.”

The salute to veterans, many of whom will have cars during the competition, is planned during the car show outside of the center at noon. 

“The goal is also to get Wharton energized again. It’s weird that we can still bring (Hurricane) Harvey up in conversation, but it’s still very relevant today when we talk about what do we need to do in our community,” Amy said. “People have lost interest in some things around town, so we can get citizens energized in their own community and expanding on it hopefully in the years to come.”

There are also two concerts planned inside the center both days that are from 8 p.m. to midnight. The first is “Tejano Night” featuring J.R. Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits on May 17. The second concert on May 18 featuring Steel Country.

Tickets for each of these concerts is $10 at the door, but there is a two-day event pass that is being offered for $20.

Showdown receives council OK

The festival has the City of Wharton’s backing as elected officials heard about the use of the Wharton Civic Center.

The request for use of the civic center was sent by Ron Sanders, executive director of the Wharton Chamber of Commerce, to City Manager Andres Garza. The request was made on March 26. 

The following is what was submitted to the council about the Texas Salsa Showdown during an April 8 council meeting:

• Use of the entire property inside and outside the center both days;

• From 8 a.m. to midnight, May 18, allow open containers inside and outside the center property, in coordination with the Wharton Police Department. (Alcohol is limited to the interior of the center on Friday, May 17, when the event will be from 7:30 p.m. to midnight);

• Close University Avenue from Fulton Street to west the Brooking Hall driveway on Saturday, May 18;

• Provide trash cans outdoors around the center property, front and rear.

Amy said having the event the third weekend in May was agreed on so it would not interfere with the Wharton County Youth Fair at the beginning of the month or Freedom Fest, which will not be held for a second consecutive year.

Unlike a hot sauce contest, the idea of a salsa/cook-off contest is unique on to itself. 

Amy said San Antonio has a couple of “salsa” events twice a year, and there is nothing organized between Corpus Christi, Houston and Austin, or along the Gulf Coast. 

“We’re excited to see how it will grow,” Amy said.

When asked what they would consider a successful Texas Salsa Showdown, both said 500 each day.

“We would like to see a paid attendance of 600; if people see the free portion of the event outside, they will want to come and see more,” Amy said. 

For more information or to be part of the event, visit or call 979-532-1862. You can also comment or communicate with Texas Salsa Showdown officials on through their Facebook page.

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