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Is it adios for Taco Express at the fair?

After 40 years, Polo and Melinda Sifuentes ready to call it quits

August 6, 2017
Chuck Hunt - Register Editor (chunt@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

The rumors started circulating around the Faribault County Fairgrounds almost before the fair opened up.

One of the iconic food stands at the fair might be making their final appearance at the big county get-together.

Fans of the Taco Express wanted to find out if it was true.

Article Photos

Melinda Sifuentes, left, and her friend Rosalinda, at work in the Taco Express kitchen in a small trailer. The two, plus three or four other workers, are all crammed into the small work space, but manage to put out a lot of tasty meals in a hurry. Besides being a small space, the two say it is also plenty warm on a hot summer day. This could have been the last Faribault County Fair for the popular food stand.

And the answer is...maybe.

After 40 years of serving authentic Mexican food to fair-goers around the area, Polo and Melinda Sifuentes want to slow down from their busy pace and that includes not operating the Taco Express food stand.

"Polo is not as sure about it as I am," says Melinda Sifuentes. "But the stand is for sale and if it sells we will for sure be quitting."

There is a chance, but certainly not a definite plan, that the Sifuentes grown children may operate a food stand of their own at local area fairs.

After all, they certainly know the business. All four of them grew up working in the Taco Express.

Their children include sons Felipe and his wife Jen, Estevan and Francisco and his wife Andrea and daughter Antonia and her husband Jose. The Sifuentes also have six grandchildren Rafael, Lorenzo, Polito, Juan, Danielle and Javier.

The Taco Express is not the only jobs the Sifuentes have. Polo runs his drywall and roofing company, along with son Estevan, while Melinda puts in 12-hour shifts at Express Diagnostics International in Blue Earth, along with daughter Antonia.

The couple moved to Blue Earth 10 years ago from Guckeen, the town where Melinda grew up.

"I learned all about cooking from my mother, Antonia Hernandez," Melinda says. "I would watch her and help her and I?learned how to do it. I especially learned her secret enchilada sauce. It is like no other, and it is our family secret."

And yes, Polo and Melinda's daughter is named after Melinda's mother Antonia.

The Sifuentes story is one of family, food, fun and hard work.

Polo moved to Minnesota from Texas in 1981. The couple had met in Houston, Texas, and decided to live in Melinda's hometown of Guckeen.

They have been ambitious ever since.

"We owned Polo's Bar in St. James for many years while we were living in Guckeen and working in Blue Earth," Melinda says. "And we also started our own Hispanic automotive grocery store."

The couple had a big van and would go to Chicago each week, buy Hispanic food items not available in local stores, then deliver them to homes in St. James, Fairmont, Madelia, Blue Earth, even Albert Lea.

But then, there was also the Taco Express food stand. Their oldest child was one-year-old when they bought it and started going to fairs and other events.

"We went to many fairs back in those days," Melinda recalls. "We went to the Watonwan fair in St. James, to Martin County and here in Faribault County, and several others."

They also did events like Elmore's Horse and Buggy Days, the Lakota Sesquicentennial and the Faribault County Relay for Life event.

In fact, they will be going to this year's Relay for Life on Friday, Aug. 11, probably for the last time, also.

But you never know.

"The decision is still under discussion, especially if you talk to Polo," Melinda says. "But, we are getting older and ready to slow down."

They are also probably ready for a vacation that does not involve working hard in a hot food stand.

So, if you want that last taco or enchilada from the Taco Express, you had better hurry.

 
 

 

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