Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Full-Tilt Fiesta Season

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Full-Tilt Fiesta Season (FTFS) seemed to achieve full bloom very early this year.
It caught me a little off guard. Maybe it’s because I left the state for my first two-week vacation in 15 years and landed in a place where kids don’t have to go back to school until after Labor Day. Or maybe it’s the screwy weather: the summer monsoons and muggy weather that usually last for a couple of weeks in July and August, this year have stretched from June into September. And some events snuck up on me: The Community Foundation Ball (formerly the Mayor’s Ball), was in August instead of September and many of us seemed not quite prepared for the 2008 FTFS kickoff.
And it’s the biggest kickoff ever.
Most FTFS experts agree that the opening quack is Deming’s Great American Duck Races. Then there’s the Labor Day first down with the Hatch Chile Festival, New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival and the Franciscan Festival of the Arts and almost a dozen fiestas from Cloudcroft and Ruidoso to Silver City. Hillsboro, despite last season’s “last Apple Festival” declarations, couldn’t bear to resign from the festivities and this year replaced their traditional celebrations with an event local wags are calling the “UnApple Festival.”
From there, we’ll traditionally be in fiesta mode for the rest of the year.
This weekend, we added a new twist, a day I’ll call FTFF (Full-tilt Fiesta Friday). The Doña Ana Art’s Council’s ArtsHop, the big fall opener for artists and art galleries with a record 18 participating art galleries, iss on the same day as the opening of the Rodin Exhibit at the Las Cruces Museum of Art and the Downtown Ramble.
If you miss a FTFF event or two, don’t despair, there’s still a lot of full-tilt fiesta-ing in store for 2008. You can still catch the last day of the 28th annual Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta. Or lift off with the fans of balloons and crystal dunes joining for the White Sands Balloon Invitational Sept. 20 and 21.
Mesilla will host the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta, celebrating Mexican Independence Day, on Sept. 12 and 14 on the Mesilla Plaza.
The Mesilla Valley Maze opens Sept. 27 and runs through Oct. 26 on the Lyle Family farms on Picacho Avenue, where the u-pick gardens are already open. Stock up.
Save some room for the world’s largest enchilada, and some time for parades, music, dancing and more chile treats at The Whole Enchilada Fiesta Sept. 26 through 28.
October starts out with the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo, Oct. 1 to 5. All that down-home state fair fun segues into the sophisticated 7th Annual Mesilla Jazz Happening Oct. 4 and 5 at two venues at the Mercado Plaza and the Mesilla Plaza. Later that month, it will be time for more food, entertainment and wine at La Viña Wine Festival, billed as New Mexico’s oldest wine festival, Oct. 18 and 19 in La Union.
Get your costumes ready. You’ll need them for Halloween and other dress-up occasions coming soon. Dress as your favorite difunto (dead person) at Dia de los Muertos celebrations Nov. 1 and 2 in Mesilla. Build a altar on the Mesilla Plaza, help break a giant piñata and join a closing candlelight procession. I understand there will be some new inspiration this year: in the works is a unique “Nuclear Meltdown” exhibit at the Purple Lizard, featuring ghoulish brides in vintage wedding gowns.
Go really retro for the 37th Annual Renaissance ArtsFaire, Nov. 1 and 2 at Young Park. Shop for the holidays and enjoy arts and crafts, music, live theater, dancing and gourmet food treats
The International Mariachi Conference & Concert Nov. 5 through 9 offers a chance to see top international and budding student talents at showcases and concerts, along with a mariachi mass and a Parque Festival day of entertainment and cultural activities.
December offers a round of holiday activities, including New Mexico State University’s night of luminarias and the traditional Christmas Eve on Mesilla’s Plaza.
We’ll have many more 2008 FTFS special events to look forward to, including some premieres for all the films being made here, along with theater and gallery and symphony openings and presentations, school and church events and pageants, arts shows and some surprises.
It’s Full-Tilt Fiesta Season! Party on, fiesta animals!
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at, (575) 541-5450

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