‘Epic fail:’ Portland Taco Festival canceled after first day
A Portland taco festival that drew criticism for its perceived cultural insensitivity and lack of taco options was canceled after its first day, festival organizers announced Sunday.
In a statement, the Portland Taco Festival’s Colorado-based organizers blamed a lack of signage and infrastructure problems for some of Saturday’s problems, which included heat, long lines and a what appeared to be a limited number of vendors actually serving tacos at the festival, held at North Portland horse racing track Portland Meadows.
“We are a small team that produces concerts and festivals that benefit Non-profit organizations,” the statement reads. “This is the first large event we have produced in Portland and just had issues connecting with the correct people to make this a great event. In may ways we became a victim of our own success.”
The event was first announced in early summer, not long after controversy erupted around Kooks Burritos, a breakfast burrito food cart run by two white women who claimed to have learned their tortilla recipe by “peeking into windows” of restaurants in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico. The festival drew similar criticism out of the gate for its broad depictions of Mexican culture, including a “chihuahua beauty contest” and attendees posing in lucha libre masks.
“The Portland Taco Festival ads plastered with hipsters posing behind hard shell taco cutouts and white boys donning Lucha Libre masks are just another example of the Pacific Northwest’s tone-deaf, casual racism,” Latino-focused digital media company Mit argued in a recent post.
“We take these comments very seriously, particularly in the current political climate,” festival organizers wrote. “While it’s absolutely a work in progress, the purpose is to have fun and enjoy a diversity of people, food and activities. Much like Cinco De Mayo, St. Patricks day and all the other culturally centered celebrations we feel there is nothing wrong with celebrating something as universally loved as the TACO together with all ethnicities as a way to bring people together.”
But that was nothing compared to the social media maelstrom that started during the festival’s first day. Facebook posts and tweets by the hundreds warned that the festival was not going as advertised, with high entry and parking fees leading to only a handful of taco carts, some of which reportedly sold out after just 90 minutes. The chaos drew comparisons to Fyre Festival, the luxury music and lifestyle event from rapper Ja Rule that was canceled after attendees arrived in the Bahamas to find a festival in disarray.
“Where were the tacos?” Facebook user Joe Dabrowski wrote in a typical post. “I saw Greek, BBQ, fried chicken, icecream but only 4 taco trucks at the taco fest. On top of that half the places didn’t have power for hours, there were no trash cans and the DJ sucked.”
“We went to this festival on Saturday, August 26th and left within 30 minutes,” Richa Khandelwal wrote in an email. “There were several things wrong with it. There were only 5 food trucks with 2 hours wait, additional charges for parking when advertised for free, bathrooms not adequately supplied with toilet paper, ran out of water, food trucks losing power supply, ran out of food etc.
“Normally, I wouldn’t complain about a festival going wrong but this one is an exception. This was hosted by/for and organization based out of Colorado and was falsely advertised on several accounts.”
Here are a few more tweets about the event.
Do not go to #PortlandTacoFestival. no food, no bathrooms, no refunds, no staff
#PortlandTacoFestival = not worth it. $15 entry gets you a 2.5 hr wait for mediocre tacos, and you still have to pay for them [?]
Reading the white folk meltdown over a failed #PortlandTacoFestival is the bright spot I needed today. pic.twitter.com/eb8jqY6kce
Still looking for a good Portland-area taco? May we suggest one of these?