Fresno Beehive

Without the eating contest, Taco Truck Throwdown is still on. Here’s what to expect

Despite the cancellation of the World Taco Eating Championship, Fresno’s Taco Truck Throwdown will continue on Saturday with its schedule of taco trucks (more than 30 of them), music (including headliners like A.B. Quintanilla and the Kumbia Kings) and more.

Here’s some of what you can expect, from throwdown co-founder Mike Osegueda.

Tacos: Old, new and different

The big story line for this year is the competition between El Premio Mayor and El Mexicano. The two trucks have dominated both the People’s Choice and the Judge’s categories over the past few years.

El Premio Mayor is a four-time people’s choice winner, though El Mexicano took home both awards last year.

But what Osegueda is really interested in this year is how people will react to 559 Street Tacos. The truck, which operates out of north Fresno and in Clovis, has earned a fair amount of hype and long lines recently.

Osegueda wonders if that’s enough to stack up against the throwdown veterans.

“I’m always interested in seeing if some new truck is going to push its way out there,” he says.

There are eight or so trucks that are new to the competition this year, Osegueda says. That’s a fairly representative number, given the amount of new food trucks that have been popping up around town.

And not every truck does the traditional taco thing. There are vegan and vegetarian options (La Jacka Mobile, Gonzales Taqueria) and a few trucks doing fusion tacos (E’s Sol Food, Kerribb Flava).

Organizers aren’t looking for those unique takes on tacos, exactly, but are happy when they happen and work, Osegueda says.

Where’s The Food? debuted a surf-and-turf taco at the throwdown and ending up keeping it on the menu.

“I’m always into that,” Osegueda says.

“I’m always into people being creative.”

No more taco vouchers

The big change to this year’s event are the taco vouchers — or rather lack of them.

Vouchers can still be bought in advance, to save some time and effort, but they are no longer needed. Tacos are $2.50 across the board and you can pay at each individual truck.

Trucks will set their own prices for other items (if you don’t mind the look of eating a burrito at a taco event).

The logistics

This year’s throwdown is scaled back some, especially with the cancellation of the eating contest.

There’s no baseball game (the schedule didn’t work, Osegueda says, but the event will make full use of the stadium. That means two VIP areas and the “Don Julio Chill Lounge,” which will be set up in the stadium’s Cantina area and feature special samples from the tequila maker, plus vendors, desert trucks and DJs.

On that note: If you’re looking to treat yourself, the Ultimate VIP package (at $199 a ticket) gets you admission to the event plus access to the park’s swimming pool, 20 tacos (with delivery service), unlimited beer, soda and water, and this year’s throwdown T-shirt.

The music

Because people will ask, the music starts early and will run all day long. But if you’re in it for the headliners (Too Short, Goodie Mob, Kumbia Kings), that starts around 9 p.m. The full schedule is available on the event’s Instagram page.

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Joshua Tehee covers breaking news for The Fresno Bee, with a focus on entertainment and a heavy emphasis on the Central Valley music scene. You can see him share the area’s top entertainment options Friday mornings on KMPH’s “Great Day” and read more of his work here.