‘Taste’ pays tribute to Cinco de Mayo


The 20th Annual Taste of the Marianas Food Festival and Beer Garden kicked off last Saturday at its usual digs at the American Memorial Park with a tribute to the famous Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

In line with this theme, the Marianas Visitors Authority hosted its first 5-lb burrito eating competition at the back end of the staging area.

The monster burrito, donated by The Hut, was your basic steak burrito with the works and it came with a shot of tequila or MVA’s special concoction.

Although over a dozen individuals signed up for the competition, only five contestants were chosen and they were Zachariah Johnson, Andrew Jon Songsong, Kirk Johns, Simon Necesito, and Daniel Kintol II.

The contestants were required to finish the enormous 5-lb burrito in 20 minutes and wash it down with a shot of their preferred liquor.

After 20 minutes of intense and messy eating, Johnson was named the first 5-lb burrito eating competition champion. He was awarded a new Galaxy S7 smartphone, with a free three-month plan with IT&E and $75 worth of Taste of the Marianas tokens valid for the entire duration of Taste this month.

Johnson, a Physical Education instructor at the Admiral Herbert G. Hopwood Middle School, said that his motivation to win was the fact that he had broken his phone just days before the competition.

“I needed a new phone…I was demonstrating a few moves on the basketball court this week and I dropped my phone and it cracked…a co-worker of mine sent me a picture of the challenge so I said ‘OK, I’m going to do it; free phone, done,’” he said.

According Johnson, he has never participated in any kind of eating competition before but is now keeping an open mind about them. His preparations included not eating anything a day before the competition, a rigorous workout session to get the digestive system going, and a positive mindset.

The Taste of Marianas opening night drew hundreds of community members piling into the American Memorial Park to join the festivities.

The festival had a total of 24 booths food or drinks, each occupied by some of the island’s most popular restaurants, or individuals that wanted to showcase some of their signature, mouth-watering dishes.

The Taste of The Marianas will be open to the public every Saturday throughout the month of May from 5pm to 11pm. As is standard fare, those who want to purchase anything would need to purchase tokens from an MVA booth, and the tokens will then be used to purchase food or drinks.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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