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New festival already ‘taco’ the town in Corpus Christi

Inspired by Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam,’ Que Bueno board member Gerald Flores designed this shirt for his brand, Taco Gear. Flores believes tacos do not discriminate. Our love for tacos unites us all, he says. Courtesy photo

Que Bueno Taco Fest could be the worst-kept secret in Corpus Christi. Planned for the weekend of Diez y Seis de Septiembre, the city’s first-ever taco celebration has gained a lot of support and traction before it has even been officially announced.

“Without us even trying, the word is coming out,” said Monica McLeod Sawyer, chairperson of the Que Bueno Taco Fest. “People really want it. The momentum on this one is blowing up.”

The taco talk began with a small flyer campaign during Dia de los Muertos in late October and a more recent call for food trucks on Facebook. It wasn’t long before news channels picked it up and began asking questions.

Organizers are hosting a media launch March 8 at the new Bay Jewel venue downtown. The event will feature taco tastings, packets for sponsors and other reveals.

All proceeds from Que Bueno Taco Fest will go back into the city’s creative community. Proceeds will be donated to Positive Action Towards Creative Heritage, or PATCH, which is centered around the promotion of visual and performative arts as well as the revival of the historic Ritz Theater. PATCH has developed an Artist Nurturing Program and an Artist Collective to foster the growth of emerging artists.

“Que Bueno is not just about tacos; it has a deeper purpose,” Sawyer said. “We have a very strong creative culture here, and we’re happy for the opportunity to celebrate the culture along with the food.”

Supporters of the event include the United Chamber Foundation, the Mexican Consulate, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dusty Oliveira, a Latin Grammy-nominated DJ for his song “Cumbia Anthem.”

“I was looking for ways with a nonprofit that we could support emerging artists,” said Oliveira, who is passionate about cultural and artistic development.

“Our missions were the same,” Sawyer said. “What Dusty wanted to do with artists is what we wanted to do with programming. We brought him in to ask, ‘What do artists need and what will help?’ He’s bringing in the tools and resources that emerging artists need.”

Oliveira also hosts Tropicoso, a cumbia dance party held at the House of Rock every other month. Musicians from Peru to Mexico to Colombia come to perform, bringing the tropical vibes of Latin America to Corpus Christi. Tropicoso has blown up over the past year: The past several events have sold out with lines wrapping around the building.

“Tropicoso has been doing so well, I was thinking one of the best ways to raise money for the Ritz is to have a festival,” Oliveira said. “Corpus is small, and the artist community is small. We all support each other.”

Oliveira is bringing a Tropicoso stage to Que Bueno to fill the air with the sounds of cumbia. Other ideas for the festival are bouncing around the board room: a Chihuahua beauty contest, a taco art exhibition, a taco poetry slam. While it’s all in the works, what’s certain is that there will be music, art and, of course, tacos.

“The history of the taco, in general, plays such an important role in the culture of many families, especially here in South Texas,” said Gerald Flores, chairperson of Que Bueno Taco Fest and owner of tacogear.com. “If you’re going to do a taco fest here in Corpus Christi, you have to do it right or you’re just going to get ripped apart.”

Flores is a graphic designer, and Taco Gear is his side hustle: a website that sells apparel and goods that pay homage to nothing but tacos. The shirts have cheeky slogans such as “Give me Tacos or Give me Death” and “Body by Tacos.” Flores has been featured in the book “The Tacos of Texas.” He runs a web video series called “Taco Chair” and is a member of the Texas Taco Council.

It only seemed natural for Sawyer to bring Flores on board with Que Bueno.

“He’s launched this whole creative taco movement that has really taken off,” Sawyer said. “It’s great timing to have him as a lead in the event.”

Flores has a taco creed to go with his taco cred.

“I have a motto: You’re never late if you’re bringing tacos,” Flores said. “The festival is such a simple concept, but tacos play a huge part of our lives and daily culture.”

Que Bueno Taco Fest will be held Sept. 15. The location is to be announced. Stay updated by following facebook.com/quebuenotacofest and @quebuenotaco on Twitter. To get involved, visit quebuenotacofest.com for information on volunteering, becoming a vendor or making donations.

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