HOLTVILLE — For the past six years La Familia de Doña Maria has made its version of fish tacos, and while they’ve done well, the group has never won at the annual cooking contest here.
Yet a new dish propelled them above half a dozen other competitors, letting the family win the sixth Dia de la Familia.
It’s exciting, said Lupe Dorame. The group has been there from the beginning, starting six years ago.
“We were trying to get the family together,” she said. “We’re a big family, and it’s a great way to get together.”
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Now that they’ve won though, they plan to keep going because not only does it get the family together, it allows them to spend time with the community, Dorame said.
The final day of the Holtville Carrot Festival was Sunday, and hundreds headed out to sample different dishes and celebrate family at the annual Dia de la Familia event. Families and friends gathered in front of City Hall to eat, walk through the street fair and ride the midway carnival for the last day of the weeklong festival.
“It’s fun. It’s a fun festival, a good small town atmosphere,” said Dale Snapper, a snowbird from Washington who also served as a judge for the cooking contest.
He and his wife have been down to the area off-and-on for the past 10 years and heading out to the festival is fun, he said.
It’s a good time, and the people are friendly.
While many things were going on Sunday, the star from about 11 a.m. to after 2 p.m. was the cooking contest.
Nina Earls, 28, of Holtville has been going to the Day of the Family since she can remember, but this was her first year cooking in it. She made a pulled pork sandwich, which she had first cooked for Super Bowl weekend.
“And it just was a hit,” said her mother and helper at the event Jeanette Rivas. “Everyone loved it.”
A lot of work went into it as Earls said she started cooking the pork at 11 p.m. Saturday. She had hoped to win, and said she thought she had a chance.
“So far nobody has complaints,” Earls said. “It’s been good.”
Earls didn’t gain one of the top three spots, as the prizes went to Huera’s Tacos for third place, the Phillips-Enriquez family for second and La Familia de Doña Maria in first.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.