Tacos in the Park kicks off festival season in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park today. The weekend-long event will serve up tacos, tequila, craft beer and live music, including a performance by country singer Britnee Kellogg.
Jeff Angelo cooked up Tacos in the Park as a fundraiser for The Arc of Southwest Washington, a nonprofit that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In 2019, Angelo organized Taco Fest as a fundraiser for the Evergreen School Foundation. When he became executive director for The Arc of Southwest Washington, he decided to create a new taco fundraiser to benefit that organization.
Twenty percent of food vendor proceeds and 100 percent of alcohol proceeds go to The Arc of Southwest Washington.
Finding food vendors for fundraisers can be tricky. Angelo started with taco makers he already knew. Angelo, a regular at Los Alambres, easily lined up the Hernandez family, who own this Mexico City-focused restaurant in Vancouver’s Heights neighborhood.
Getting Smokin’ Oak was more complicated. The popular downtown barbecue pit and whiskey palace was already booked for events this summer. Nonetheless, Angelo bonded with owner Erick Gill over their love for Washington State University. Gill also helped to pick spirits for the event, including the tequila tasting.
A year ago, Angelo posted a query on Facebook asking his friends for taco recommendations. Several raved about Las Cazuelas, a food cart in downtown Portland. He convinced the owner of this beloved taco cart to participate in Tacos by the Park by going to Portland and talking to her through an interpreter.
Other taco vendors include Nom Nom, Poblano Pepper PDX, Pacific Northwest Chef, The Taco Dudes (a Vancouver Farmers Market vendor), and Anahi’s Tamales & Tacos. Piehole Pizzeria will serve a taco pizza.
Some of the more intriguing tacos include one with tofu, peanut sauce and slaw from Nom Nom; smoked elote tacos, birria tacos and chicken tinga tacos from Smokin’ Oak; and street tacos from Los Alambres.
Drinks, alcoholic and otherwise, will be available to accompany the eats. Trap Door Brewing, Brothers Cascadia Brewing, Heathen Brewing and others will serve kegs of taco-friendly brews. Heathen Brewing will bring a firetruck converted into a beer truck with 14 kegs of beverages, including draft cocktail strawberry lemonade spiked with vodka. Two VIP tents will serve specialty spirits, one with craft cocktails and the other with tequila tastings.
On Saturday, festivalgoers can play free video games provided by Reset Button.
“I have a memory of eating a taco while playing Ms. Pac-Man,” Angelo said.
This memory inspired Angelo to contact Reset Button to see if he could get games for Tacos in the Park. Richard Wiggington, co-owner of Reset Button, used to be a driver at The Arc. Wiggington and his partner, Jordan Elting, donated the games for Saturday to benefit the organization. “American Idol” contestant Britnee Kellogg takes the stage at 7:45 tonight. Fleetwood Mac tribute band Gold Dust will play 8-10 p.m. Saturday.
General admission ($20) to the event comes with 15 tickets. Those seeking a more VIP experience can snag the El Jefe Pass for those 21 and over ($85 plus a $7.21 fee) today only. The pass provides entry, 25 taco tickets, two drink tickets, access to tables at either VIP tent and a tequila tasting.
Individual tacos at the event are around three tickets each, and taco platters require up to 12 tickets. Water is one ticket, a craft beer is seven tickets, and a specialty cocktail is eight tickets.
Rachel Pinsky: firstname.lastname@example.org