Each October, visitors travel from all over the world to visit the Mississippi Delta for the Delta Hot Tamale Festival. In the past, this event has attracted over 35,000 people from 17 states and 8 countries, all wanting to get a taste of the region’s culture. However, the Delta Hot Tamale Festival has always been more than just a celebration; it is a significant contributor to the local economy. By attracting visitors and stimulating tourism, it creates a positive ripple effect that supports local businesses and promotes economic growth throughout the Mississippi Delta region.
An economic impact study produced by Mississippi State University’s Extension Office in 2018 revealed the Festival injected over $4.2M into the local economy, and a similar study produced in 2022 revealed that number had increased to over $6.5M. The festival which takes place in downtown Greenville each year is Washington County’s largest economic driving event, and it sells out hotels in neighboring communities as far as 60 miles away. Studies show that more than 72% of festivalgoers travel more than 45 miles to attend the festival, and the average attendee spends $288 at local businesses while visiting the Delta the third weekend of October.
Each year the Delta Hot Tamale Festival sees a change or two, and this year is no exception. In 2023, organizers are introducing a $5 armband for attendees 13 years old and over. Greater Greenville, the parent company of Main Street Greenville, who produces the festival each year says this change is necessary to meet the demands of the rising prices associated with organizing a festival of this scale.
“The decision to charge an entry fee was not made lightly. We understand that this may raise questions, and we believe that transparency is key in explaining why we've taken this step,” says Greater Greenville CEO Daniel Boggs.
Boggs continued, “Over the years, the costs associated with the Delta Hot Tamale Festival have increased substantially. These costs encompass various aspects, including ensuring the safety and security of all attendees, providing top-quality entertainment and staging, and offering a diverse range of programming that caters to a wide audience. Our top priority has always been to create a fun, safe, and well-managed festival experience for everyone, and this minimal fee will allow us to continue offering the level of entertainment and programming that our festival-goers have come to expect.”
This year’s Delta Hot Tamale Festival features two nights of chart-topping artists. Music Friday night begins at 4:45 and features Chase Matthew whose hits ‘County Line’ and ‘Love You Again’ broke into iTunes Top 10 with three others falling into iTunes Top 100. Saturday’s headliner, Chayce Beckham, is taking a break from Luke Bryan’s tour to play in Greenville. Beckham’s breakout hit ‘23’ has amassed over 233 million streams, and his debut album Doin’ It Right skyrocketed to #1 on iTunes All Genre and Country Charts.
In addition to an all-star local, regional, and national music lineup, the festival will feature its traditional blend of tamale, fair food, and arts and crafts vendors. Youth vendors will participate as well as kids activity vendors.
“We truly have something for everyone, and we worked hard to keep from having to charge admission to the festival. In the end, the decision to sell armbands was necessary to sustain the festival,” said Boggs.
As a non-profit organization, Boggs pointed out that Greater Greenville reinvests its earnings into the community. Any additional dollars generated through the entry fee will also be reinvested through the various events and programs Greater Greenville administers. Some of these programs and events include providing facade grants for business owners in Downtown, maintaining a portfolio of affordable housing units, administering a homeowner rehab program for the elderly and disabled persons, producing the Greenville Christmas Parade, Fourth of July Fireworks Show, and Farmers’ Market, operating Hotel 27, and renovating the long-abandoned historic properties along Washington Avenue.
Additionally, festivals like the Delta Hot Tamale Festival provide important social benefits that are less visible but equally significant. They foster a sense of community pride, engage people from all walks of life, offer opportunities for learning and cultural enrichment, and strengthen relationships among neighbors and friends. These social aspects are integral to the festival's mission of enriching the lives of those who attend and building a stronger, more connected community.
Armbands for this year’s festival will be available beginning Monday, October 16, at Greater Greenville’s office located at 504 Central Street. Office hours are Monday- Friday, 9 am - 4 pm. Armbands may also be purchased at the festival gates. For more information, please visit www.MainStreetGreenville.com.