Hundreds of persons enjoyed a carnival-like atmosphere Saturday in downtown Pawhuska during the annual National Indian Taco Championships.
Ramona Horsechief of Pawnee was crowned as the champion of this year’s festival, regaining the title she had last won in 2009. Horsechief edged out three-time defending champ Debra Lookout of Pawhuska, who finished second. Third-place went to Jonna Beartrack.
Recipient of the "People’s Choice Award" was Osage Sisters No. 3 — a three-member entry comprised of Osage Nation employees Dana Daylight, Mary Wildcat and Jacque Jones.
Preliminary judging and People’s Choice votes were provided by members of the public who paid a $5 sign-up fee to sample tacos made by any of the 12 entrants.
Five of the contestants advanced to the final round. First-place winner received a $1,500 prize and the title as 2013 National Indian Taco Champion. The second-place finisher and People’s Choice honoree earned $1,000 and the third prize was $500.
Contests also were held for Native American dancers and drummers. The festival’s drum competition was $1,500 winner-take-all event. Each of the dance divisions (for ages 16 and over) paid $300 to the first-place finisher, $200 for second place and $100 to third. Divisions included Men’s Straight and Fancy and Women’s Cloth and Buckskin.
Sponsors for the event included the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, Osage County Tourism Bureau, Osage Casinos, the City of Pawhuska and the Osage Nation. This was the second straight year for the festival to be held in the fall. It formerly was a spring event.