DIBOLL — Tamales galore!

Hundreds of East Texans gathered for the 8th annual Tamale Festival on Saturday to enjoy the Hispanic culture and Latin America traditions at Old Orchard Park.

With the sun shining, dozens of vendors, business employees and community organization volunteers packed the park with food, games and fun for all ages.

Diboll High School band member Jaimen Shepherd helped volunteers sell pork tacos at the Diboll Band Boosters’ booth.

“It’s my first time to come today, and I’m having an awesome time,” Shepherd said. “It tells a lot about the culture of Diboll, and it just explains who we are.”

The day started with a volleyball tournament and washer tournament, and the Tamale Festival Boxing Tournament was held throughout the day. The Calmeca Mariachi Band performed a concert in the morning with radio station Super Mix 101.9 FM spinning tunes for the rest of the festival.

Diboll resident Tom Farley said he has enjoyed the festival for many years.

“It started out a long time ago, and it’s a bunch of people getting together selling tamales,” he said. “We get everybody together, and it’s grown into this. It’s fantastic for the community.”

Petting zoos, train rides and arts and craft vendors were just a few of the Tamale Festival attractions. Kids decorated their own maracas, people ate hundreds of tamales, tacos and quesadillas, and crowds enjoyed performances by the Diboll Intermediate Spanish Club.

Lufkin resident Tim Alvey said he comes every year to have fun and enjoy the food.

“We’ve walked around and seen the sights. We bought some tamales, we had some soda, played on the playground, and we just rode the horse,” he said. “My granddaughter is having a ball.”

Judges announced that Roxanna Martinez was the winner of the Tamale Cooking Contest. There were three different categories: pork, chicken and other. She won in all three. Gerardo Rojas was announced the winner of the eating contest by eating a dozen tamales faster than his competitors.

More photos and videos from the event can be found at Facebook.com/Dibolltamalefest.

“I love tamales!” Shepherd said.

Megan Whitworth’s email address is mwhitworth@lufkindailynews.com.