The hottest festival around is going down this Saturday as Marshall News Messenger, along with main sponsor Patterson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, present the 2019 East Texas Taco Fest on the downtown square.

“It’s our pleasure to bring the East Texas Taco Festival back for the second year,” said News Messenger Publisher Jerry Pye.

The family-friendly event kicks off at 11 and ends at 10 p.m., offering free contests, hot performances, salsa dancing, children’s activities and more.

“It is our wish that the festival provides good entertainment for the community — for adults and children, alike,” said Pye.

Deemed “the most intense speed race on the ground,” the Choice Dental Chihuahua race is set for 3:10 p.m., and is open to any dog of Chihuahua descent.

“This is one of the cutest competitions you will ever witness,” said Gai Bennett, events manager for M. Roberts Media, owner of the Marshall News Messenger.

Set for 4:30 p.m., the Jucys Taco jalapeno eating contest is a competition one can really sink their teeth into — if brave enough, organizers teased. Winner of the timed eating contest will leave with “bragging rights,” a trophy and a Jucys Taco gift card.

“It’s the hottest competition of the weekend,” said Bennett.

The colorful flare of Lucha Libre Mexican-style wrestling is also returning to the festival, featuring Big Daddy Yum Yum’s Lucha Libre All Stars. The matches are sponsored by the city of Marshall.

Live professional wrestling matches will take place at noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Heavyweight Champion Byron “Big Daddy Yum Yum” Wilcott. “I was really happy the newspaper brought us back to entertain Marshall.”

The Gecko Pest Control Kids Zone LLC will open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for all youth to enjoy.

“We will have a duel obstacle course slide from Fun Brothers Bounce Houses, button making with Marshall Public Library, crafts with Michelson Museum of Art; and sack races, hopscotch and Tick-Tac-Toe with Healthcare Express,” said Bennett.

Century 21-A Select Group and Burris Property Management will present salsa dancing lessons with instructor, Sal Landeros, at 4:15 p.m. The tantalizing contest begins at 6:15 p.m.

“He’s a professional ballroom dancer and teaches ballroom dancing for 20 years,” Bennett said of Landeros, owner of All About Dance Studio in Tyler. “It’s going to be a best.”

The Margarita Villa, sponsored by Davis Chemical/Jim L & Winnie Davis, will be open for adults throughout the day. The VIP Tent, sponsored by Christus Good Shepherd Health Systems, will also be open all day with a VIP pass.

Live music will hit the Vera Bank Stage, featuring a variety of performances for the occasion.

“We’ve got something for everyone — rock, country, blues, funk, jazz; and of course, a little Latin style to go with the tacos,” said Bennett.

Like last year, civic organizations will assist in the community event for a chance to raise funds for their missions as proceeds from the event will be split to benefit each.

“It is our wish that this festival provides good economic impact for the community — both for the nonprofits that work with us and the local downtown businesses,” said Pye, sharing how the event provides new tax dollars for the city.

“This is another step in providing value for the community and builds on our heritage of the Wonderland of Lights and the FireAnt Festival,” said Pye, sharing the News Messenger’s history in playing a founding role in both.

“We urge all to come out, enjoy the festival and the food and the activities and ‘pass a good time,’” said Pye.

Tickets are currently on sale at the website, General admission tickets are $10 for a wrist band. VIP tickets, which include entry to a VIP section, two drink coupons, snacks and hors d’oeuvres are $40. Admission for kids ages 12 and younger is free.