Marana Fall Festival returns, helps food trucks bring in new customers and business

Marana Fall Festival returns, helps food trucks bring in new customers and business
Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 6:52 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - From mutton busting to chicken holding, the Marana Fall Festival has activities for folks of all ages to enjoy.

But arguably, the best part is the food.

Whether they’re returning players or new faces, the fall festival offers the public the opportunity to buy treats made in Marana.

“We have a ton of food trucks here,” said Shelby Scheer, a special events supervisor for Marana Parks and Recreation.

“They’re all very diverse, so people can have many, many options. And they’re supporting local by buying food from those vendors as well.”

One food truck cooking up good eats is Fiesta Filipina.

Serving up Filipino favorites like adobo and lumpia, Fiesta Filipina has been open for 7 years.

The owner, Thelma Ward, says her food truck helps introduce people to a cuisine they may not have tasted.

“Very few people knew about Filipino food and culture, and that is essentially why I opened the food truck, to introduce my culture,” Ward said.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Ward was delighted to see her culture and cuisine welcomed to Tucson with open arms.

Events like the fall festival helps Ward increase her following around southern Arizona, and to bring more cultures to the city of gastronomy.

Fiesta Filipina will also be making an appearance at comedian Jo Koy’s show in Tucson on Nov. 2.

“It puts our face on the map and people get to know who we are,” she said. “Tucson being the melting pot that it is, we see all kinds of nationalities and cultures trying our food.”

One cuisine that most people have probably had is Italian, but one vendor is serving up an Italian treat that some may not have heard of.

Joseph Gauci, owner of Malta Joes Baked Goods, is serving up pastizzi, which he described as Italy’s version of an empanada.

And his journey started from an accidental discovery.

“Well about 7 years ago, I was making Maltese cookies for my family out east and I had a lot of dough and flour left over, and I opened my mother’s recipe book and there was her recipe for the Maltese pastizzi.”

Gauci actually found his mother’s recipe on Christmas Eve, saying it was something like a Christmas miracle.

Using the festival as a way to reach new audiences, Gauci appreciates how events like the Fall Festival help take his career to the next level.

“The people of Tucson and Marana have embraced my pastizzi so well that I went from a tent at a farmer’s market, to building this food truck,” he said.

Gauci says that his business has grown so much that he is now able to ship his products across the country.

Gauci and Ward both say that it was the support of event organizers and community members that helped make them an Old Pueblo staple.

The town of Marana is now preparing for its holiday festival, set to kick off this December, for folks to enjoy.

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