CINCINNATI - It was supposed to be the event to “taco-bout.” But social media was littered with people giving the inaugural Taco Festival Cincinnati a "shell" of a review.
Food ran out early, they said. People waited in taco lines for an hour or longer. And many were stuck with food tokens they had bought when they arrived at Saturday’s event at Yeatman’s Cove – on top of a $12 admission charge.
Chris Himes and many others went home with sour screams.
“We feel like we got duped," Himes told WCPO. “Nobody was really happy. Literally every line you got in you heard the same conversations happening.”
It was the same frustration for Andrew Ralenkotter.
“Within the first 10 minutes of even being there, I heard people already complaining completely and I was like, ‘Oh no, I'm already stuck here and I already have all these tokens,’” Ralenkotter said. “I'm like, ‘All right, we'll see how this goes completely,’ and it was pretty bad."
Himes said he spent $40 on taco tokens. Ralenkotter said he couldn’t use all the tokens he bought.
“A lot of people have these tokens and just lost a ton of money," Ralenkotter said.
TV celebrity Mario Lopez was there to help make tacos and pour tequila shots. Pre-event promotions promised food from 30 restaurants plus live music, a variety of contests (including a Taco Attire contest, a Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest and a Chihuahua Beauty Pageant) and lucha libre wrestling.
— Mario Lopez (@MarioLopezExtra) July 9, 2017
But scores of people left scathing reviews on the event’s Facebook page and Twitter.
The out-of-town organizers acknowledged the bad reviews, saying in part:
"Festival lines are long … We're with you!" and "More restaurants are coming next year."
Himes said he wanted organizers to apologize.
“Just own it just own up to your mistake, that's all," Himes said.
Organizers told WCPO they will refund unused tokens but they need a few days to set up the process. It should be up and running by Friday at https://thetacofestival.com/cincinnati/.
Himes said he might give it a second chance if it comes back next year.
“It seems like a great concept,” he said. “The execution just wasn't there"