Last year was the first year for an event called Wichita Taco Fest, and local taco eaters liked the idea.
The problem was that they liked it far, far more than organizers anticipated. They'd prepared for about 3,000 people, and when 7,000 showed up on a warm June afternoon, things got chaotic — and not in a good way. Lines were long. Tempers were short. And by the end of the day, people were expressing their displeasure all over social media.
Now, the event's organizers are ready to try again, and with a year's perspective, they say, they've been able to address everything that went wrong.
This year's event, which will happen from 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, will be everything they wanted last year’s to be.
"We are so on it this year," said Debbie Botefur, who handles marketing for organizer FestiveICT. "I think last year, it just kind of took us by storm, the amount of people that came."
Admission tickets to this year’s event will again cost $5, and once in, people will pay $1 for every taco they sample. Tickets will go on sale on March 29.
Last year's Taco Fest was staged on Union Station plaza, a venue that grew packed and impassable when the festival got started. People with pre-purchased tickets stood in long lines to enter the event, and once they were inside, they were met with more long lines for food.
The much larger Lawrence-Dumont Stadium will alleviate the crowding problem, Botefur said. Plus, the experienced staff at the stadium will be in charge of handling crowds, lines and getting people in.
Another change organizers have made: People who get to the front of the line will be able to order only so many tacos — maybe five or six. Last year, if people ordered 20 tacos at once, the vendors would try to fulfill those orders and the lines wouldn't move.
Many of the event's original features, though, will return, including margarita sales and a tequila tasting. So far, organizers have 20 taco vendors, mostly local restaurants, signed up to participate, and they hope to eventually recruit at least 30.
Botefur said the group would share more details, including a list of vendors, as the date gets closer, so stay tuned for updates.
When tickets go on sale on March 29, they'll be available at www.selectaseat.com or at 316-755-SEAT.
The first ever Wichita Taco Fest was greeted by lines of hundreds of hungry Wichitans waiting to get into the event where several local and regional vendors were selling their tacos. (Video by Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle)