The Des Moines Taco & Margarita Festival certainly gave people who attended something to taco-bout.
Held along the Court Avenue bridge in downtown Des Moines on Saturday, attendees complained about long lines, an overly packed venue, how disorganized the event was, lack of margarita options, vendors not accepting VIP free taco tickets, and country music acts being booked to play. A few also complained of food poisoning.
Lizzie Mosby of Des Moines wrote a warning on Facebook as the event was taking place:
“DO NOT waste your time at the Des Moines Taco Festival. Unless you’re like… ‘how can I just spend money to stand in lines all day’ even if you paid for tickets. It’s not worth it,” she wrote. “We got VIP tickets, what a HORRIBLY organized event. Find a patio and enjoy your Saturday.”
There are more than 100 comments under the event’s page with many expressing similar remarks as Mosby. A similar thread on the Food Lovers – Des Moines Facebook page garnered nearly 300 comments.
“This is like Fyre Festival but on a bridge,” wrote Steven Jon Warden of Pella.
One local restaurant owner commented in a thread that they were getting commitments from vendors at the last minute.
The event was put on by AZ Food Festivals LLC, an Arizona-based company that describes itself as “a world-class event planning team.”
According to its website, more than 150,000 people have attended its North American events since 2018.
The company is owned and operated by Arizona resident Adam Dobres and, according to Arizona state records, it has only been registered as a business since March 2021.
When contacted by Iowa Starting Line via email, Dobres provided the following response:
“This is a first to hear about food poisoning. We had a couple people get heat exhaustion and paramedics handled that,” he wrote. “Lines are going to be long anywhere you go (Disneyland, Walmart, Airports, Concerts, etc). There was food and drinks from start to finish and no one ran out.”
According to a social media post by a man who identified himself as Dobres’ father, 7,200 people attended the Des Moines Taco Festival.
A similar event held near Scranton, Pennsylvania, drew similar complaints in online comments sections.
There is also a locally-sponsored event called The Taco Festival Des Moines. Several commentators noted the taco fests run by local Latinos are much better organized.
by Ty Rushing