By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Get ready. It’s FTFS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Season).
Our fiesta dead zone is shrinking and FTFS seems to start earlier every year.
The ducks used to stand alone, as they waddled in for Deming’s Great American Duck Race (Thursday through Aug. 26 this year) to lead us into FTFS, that festival-filled time of year that stretches from late August to January.
But in recent years, we’ve added two big events about the same time: the White Sands International Film Fest (which starts next Wednesday and runs through Aug. 26) and the MainStreet ¡SalsaFest! which fills downtown with spicy fun on Aug. 26.
If you’re a newcomer and need some clues, you can tell that FTFS is on its way by a surefire olfactory harbinger: the smell of roasting chiles.
Just when we need lots of energy, the chile harvest comes rolling in to help us rev up our endorphin systems, cheer us on and strengthen our will to live, dance and party hearty. Coincidence? I think not.
It’s all part of the natural order of things for those of us blessed to live in at FTFS ground zero, the city of festive moods and fiesta attitudes: Las Cruces.
And we can party on and nurture our inner fiesta animals knowing that festivals are packed with healthy benefits for our economy, our relationships, and many regional causes and community organizations.
The festivities have gotten more polished in the almost two decades I’ve lived here, and we’ve attracted more professionals to help run some events, but many of our largest fiestas are still organized by volunteers, and I can’t think of a single major event that could manage without those who selflessly donate their time and expertise.
Appropriately, our official 2012 New Mexico Statehood Centennial celebrations officially kicked off several months early, not in the ancient City Different (Santa Fe) nor the Duke City (Albuquerque) but where a major 100-year state fiesta should rightfully begin, right here at Fiesta Central. It all started about a year ago in August 2011, with the Centennial SalsaFest.
And once again, were launching FTFS with one of what we’re calling Superweekends, times when fiestas cluster, like racing ducks, and it takes a lot of careful planning to hit them all … or at least the highlights from your favorites.
We’ve got two in a row, right out of the chute, with ducks, film and salsa next week. And with no breather, we’ll go right into the three-day Labor Day weekend, featuring must-go fiesta choices that include the 41th Hatch Chile Festival, New Mexico Harvest Wine Festival, Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts and a super-festive Downtown Ramble.
The Superweekends vary from year to year. This year, for instance, Renaissance ArtsFaire will be same weekend as the main Día de Los Muertos celebrations in Mesilla (some years, they fall on the different weekends). There’s no rest for the costumed (or Doña Ana Arts Council staff and volunteers), because there will be a superweekend that includes DAAC’s increasingly popular Zombie Walk and the opening of their first Rio Grande Haunted Theatre event Oct. 27, plus Día de los Muertos events all over town, Halloween on a Wednesday and RenFaire and Dead Day procession the next weekend. Just figure on being in costume for nine or 10 days for Superweek Plus.
There may be another FTFS Superweekend the first of December, which often includes La Casa Bazaar and assorted city tree-lighting, trail of lights and general winterfest fun. In fact, December is usually a FTFS Supermonth around here, challenging the stamina of the most enthusiastic fiesta fans.
So this is your last weekend to rest up, and get in training. Stock up on peppers and make sure to maintain a therapeutic chile level, practice your salsa moves, and get in touch with your amigos near and far to plan your fiesta schedule. I’ve made some calls, checked some websites and put together the annual Las Cruces Style FTFS Highlights list to get you started.
No matter what tomorrow (or the Mayan calendar) may bring, this could be your best FTFS ever.
Ready. Set. ¡Fiesta!
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450; Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.
Las Cruces Style Full-Tilt Fiesta Season Highlights
Aug. 22-26: White Sands International Film Fest
Aug. 23-26: Great American Duck Race
Aug. 26: SalsaFest!
Sept. 1 & 2: 41st Hatch Chile Festival
Sept. 1 to 3: New Mexico Wine Harvest Wine Festival
Sept. 1 & 2: Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts
Sept. 8: Fort Selden Frontier Days
Sept. 15 to 16: White Sands Hot Air Balloon Invitational
Sept. 15 & 16: Mesilla’s Diez y Seis de Septiembre
Sept. 28 to 30: The Whole Enchilada Fiesta
Sept. 29 to Oct. 28: Mesilla Valley Maze
Oct. 3 to 7: Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo
Oct. 5 to 8: Silver City Red Dot Studio Tour & Gallery Walk (Formerly Silver City Weekend at the Galleries)
Oct. 6 & 7: Mesilla Jazz Happening
Oct. 6 & 7: New Mexico Pumpkin Festival
Oct. 13 & 14: La Viña Harvest Wine Fest
Oct. 24 to 27: NMSU Homecoming
Oct. 27 DAAC Zombie Walk & Haunted Theatre Opening
Oct. 31: Halloween
Nov. 2, 3 & 4: Dia de Los Muertos in Mesilla, plus parade float, processions, art shows September through November.
Nov. 3 & 4: Renaissance ArtsFaire
Nov. 11: Mesilla Veteran’s Day Ceremony, Mariachi y Mas Parque Fiesta
Nov. 12: City of Las Cruces Veterans Day Parade
Nov. 16 to 18: Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, workshops, Student Showcase Spectacular Concert, Mariachi Mass
Nov. 17: El Tratado de la Mesilla Reenactment
Nov. 18: Toys for Kids Motorcycle Parade
Nov. 30, Dec. 1 & 2: La Casa Holiday Bazaar
Early December (TBA): ninth annual Trail of Lights Fiesta, City Christmas Tree Lighting
Dec. 14: Mesilla Xmas Tree Lighting
Dec. 15: Fort Selden Luminaria Tour
Dec. 10 to 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta at Tortugas & St. Gen, Tortugas “A” Mountain Pilgrimage
Dec. 20 to 23: Las Cruces Chamber Ballet Nutcracker
Dec. 24: Mesilla Plaza Christmas Eve Carols & Luminarias