Somerton is Arizona’s small town, with a big heart

Meet the town known for its festive spirit (Field Trip Friday is sponsored by Sanderson Ford)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 8:19 AM MST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 12:22 PM MST
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SOMERTON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Nestled just a few miles southwest of the City of Yuma lies a border town known for being a tight-knit community with a festive spirit.

Somerton was built on the heart of Hispanic immigrants, with many working in the agricultural industry. Yuma County, of course, is home to a $4 billion industry, producing leafy greens with a bit of citrus. As Yuma’s tourism agency writes, “if you’re eating a salad during the winter, chances are that it was grown in Yuma.”

Those who identify as Latino often know: Christmas is a big deal. Whether your family and friends are secular or religious, the culture’s historical roots of colonialism and Catholicism has transcended generations. So, you shouldn’t be surprised that this border town celebrates the holiday cheerily and extravagantly. And if you know a little bit about the southwest, it all starts with tamales.

Meet the mayor ahead of the town’s biggest celebrations

Good Morning Arizona caught up with mayor Gerardo Analya, a civil engineer by profession. He spoke with Arizona’s Family reporters Gibby Parra and Ian Schwartz about how the town’s 15,000 friendly residents share a communal way of life.

Organizers say the “Tamale Festival” is often called the “Woodstock of Tamales.” With so many families living, eating, and breathing tamales during the holiday season, naturally, a festival to celebrate it all would eventually come. And it did.

Launched by the ASU El Diablito Alumni Chapter, who all live and work throughout Yuma County. The goal in mind? Help students achieve their dream of attending Arizona State. And so far, they’re succeeding by raising over $400,000 in scholarships.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At This Yuma County Shop

Elvira's Bakery in Somerton is the place to visit in Yuma County to satisfy your sweet tooth. (Sponsored by Sanderson Ford)

It’s love at first bite! For 33 years Elvira’s right on Main Street has served up pastries, Mexican breads, and all kinds of Hispanic goods. Quality is the name of the game in here, with authentic cooking methods, with no mass-produced baked treats in here.

Come hungry!

Meet Lydia Flores, a past winner of the Tamale Festival.

The multiple-time winner of the Tamale Festival in years past is a grandma in Yuma. Lydia Flores’ now famous tamales are known as, and lovingly nicknamed, “Chromies.” Ian and Gibby got a taste of the mouth-watering food. She comes from a big family with lots of siblings, and putting food on the table was always a struggle. To save money, her dad decided to use foil to wrap the tamales, instead of buying more cornhusks. Low and behold, the tamales turned out great, and if you ask her, they taste even better

“All of the Lights”

Every year, the Somerton Light Parade lights Main Street as dozens of buses, trucks, and floats make their way around the community. Hundreds take their families to see the dancers and the flashing lights as sponsors and participants compete in three categories. It’s a celebration that has gone on for 13 years.

Slow and Roll

Mi Vida Car Club is a culmination of Arizona's car culture, spread out around the southwest. (Field Trip Friday is sponsored by Sanderson Ford)

Take a step back in time to see how low rider culture has stood the test of time. Phoenix Magazine reports that lowriders first started popping up around the state in 1950, mainly by Mexican-Americans seeking to differentiate themselves from the hot rod culture of the time. Today, an estimated 200 lowrider clubs are spread throughout Arizona, most of them in the Valley.

But in this small town, Mi Vida Car Club shows up, big time. Friends Anthony Montolla and Edgar Naeter, originally from Globe, started the club in 1997, which has grown into multiple chapters throughout the Southwest. The club’s color: brown, represents “la raza,” (the race), an homage to their heritage.

Who has school spirit? We do!

Hello Somerton Middle School!

With such a small population, there’s no doubt that the town is geared as a affordable, family-oriented community for those living and working throughout the county. Arizona’s Famliy made a surprise stop at Somerton Middle School to cheer on our future generations.