FRESNO, California — Instead of a game of baseball, crowds flocked to Chukchansi Park in downtown Fresno Saturday to see over 30 taco trucks on the diamond. In light of recent events, those behind the Taco Truck Throwdown made sure everyone attending would be safe.
It’s the event’s ninth year, but Mariela Aguiniga’s first time going. After enjoying some of the trucks’ tacos, she vowed it definitely will not be her last.
“I hope we continue doing stuff like this,” she said. “So, when I soon have my own kids, I can say, hey, I had this when I was young.”
This year’s Throwdown had an impressive lineup of taco trucks — featuring old fan favorites, like El Mexicano, as well as fairly new favorites, like 559 Street Tacos.
Besides the good eats, there was some live entertainment, including some music and Lucha Xtreme wrestling. Something different, though, was no World Taco Eating Championship.
The decision to remove that event from the lineup came Wednesday after Dana Hutching, 41, passed away on Tuesday. He choked on tacos he ate at an amateur eating competition that happened during a Grizzlies game.
Hearing about that, Aguiniga knew, “They’re going to hype up their precautions, make sure no one is breaking any rules.”
Aguiniga was one of many who noticed the increased presence of security personnel and law enforcement officers. There also was more medical personnel on-hand.
The Grizzlies’ president, Derek Franks, said current events influence their safety protocol.
“Not just with what’s happened this week, but also just in general,” Franks said. “As we look at [what happened in] El Paso and Gilroy.”
El Mexicano is one of the Throwdown’s original taco trucks. Owner Jovita Camacho said over the years, organizers always do their best to ensure safety.
“They always find room for improvement, they always follow through,” Camacho said.
Another big change this year was no need for taco vouchers, with all vendors taking cash or card.
First-time Throwdown vendor Taco Pinto took home the win from the judges.