DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - The 9th Annual Tamale Festival in Diboll is back and bigger than ever.
"I love it, this has all of our favorite foods," Aracely Tejeda, a festival goer said. "Like the corn, tacos, and the tamales. We love everything about it."
The Tamale Festival celebrates Hispanic culture in an East Tex-Mex way.
"This festival is so much fun for the kids," Shanie Sanford, a festival attendee said. "There's a lot of fun things to do."
"It's a good atmosphere," Mayra Silva, a vendor said. "Everyone seems to be joyful."
"We have a great little town here, and we want people to come out and enjoy Diboll," civic center and tourism director, Loretta Christmas said.
From Mariachi bands, to authentic Mexican foods, this is one event that attracts hundreds to East Texas.
"This year has been one of the biggest attractions," Christmas said.
For 2016, event organizers decided to step things up with an exotic petting zoo.
"This isn't your traditional petting zoo, we've got a camel, and a kangaroo," Christmas said. "Kids seem to love it."
"Lots of neat animals for the kids and they can go in and pet them," Sanford said. "I like that they can get up close and personal with them."
Another showstopper is the competition-driven tamale eating contest.
"I would say the tamale eating contest draws a crowd," Christmas said.
This festival also helps community organizations come closer to meeting their goals.
"We are raising money so we can go on our youth trip to Poland," Silva said. "It's going to be a pilgrimage for two weeks, and on one of those days, we're going to be able to visit with the Pope."
"I think it's great because people from the valley come all the way down here just to do the vending," Tejeda said. "That's how they make a living a lot of them."
"Seeing the whole community come together, that's what it's all about," Christmas said. "We've really been excited to watch the different organizations that come out."
Organizers said the number of vendors doubled this year.