Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's you favorite fiesta?

Your Favorite Fiesta
By S. Derrickson Moore
What’s your favorite fiesta?
There’s a lot of competition and it’s a hard call.
Over a long and festive lifetime, I’ve enjoyed St. Lawrence Seaway festivals in Michigan and Rose Festivals in Portland, Ore., along with decades of salutes to assorted produce, princesses, queens and even fish, from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest.
I’ve hoisted steins and danced polkas at Oktoberfests (the real thing, in Germany, and imitations throughout the world).
I’ve been front and center (and sometimes even on the planning committee) for sophisticated soirees in Palm Beach and South Florida and attended polished urban celebrations in New York. I was even in residence nearby when the iconic original Woodstock changed the world, or at least the way we think of rock festivals. I had a newborn baby at the time, and after seeing the movies of infants in the mud, I’m still not sorry we skipped it. But to this day, my son still expresses regrets that we missed a chance to be part of rock history. Even if he wouldn’t have remembered it, he figures it would have looked good on album covers.
That’s the thing about fiestas. They can be very personal, and the best fiesta is in the eye of the beholder. Your favorites can depend on where you are, who you’re with and what’s important in your life, long term or at the moment.
I can still be surprised at your motivations and fiesta animals, even after decades of asking people what brought them to celebrations of various cultures, and cultural groups and causes, art, beer, wine, saints, religious holidays, jazz, drama, classical music, rock, pop, enchiladas, fast ducks and hot chiles.
Pilgrimages make sense for deeply spiritual occasions and reasons, like the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival trek up Tortugas Mountain, for instance.
But I admit I’ve been amazed at the number of people who seem to communicate an almost religious fervor about finally making it to events like the Hatch Chile Festival. Red and green pilgrims have told me they’ve planned honeymoons and bucket list vacations around the annual pepper fiesta.
There are people who would genuinely rather be there for the running of the ducks in Deming, than, say, more famous events like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
I know multi-generational families that plan their reunions around the Las Cruces International Mariachi Festival, the Whole Enchilada Festival or other favorite events.
In my Santa Fe days, I talked to collectors who had waited a lifetime to attend Indian Market, though those of us who lived there thought it was a madhouse to be avoided at all costs. We found it much more meaningful to visit Pueblos and studios and smaller events where we had a better chance to get to know artists and the art and culture that inspired them.
Whatever your preferences, it’s great to be in what might very well be the festival capital of the world during FTFS (Full-Tilt Fiesta Season).
It’s hard to imagine a bad fiesta in a place where the mood is mellow, fiesta prices are usually pretty reasonable and the weather is almost always good to great.
But if I had to name my favorite fiesta weekend (here, or anywhere else I can think of), it would probably be the first weekend in November. Most years, including this one, it’s the time for both the Doña Ana Arts Council Renaissance ArtsFaire in Young Park, and Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mesilla. Both festivals beautifully showcase the friendly blend of cultures and remarkable artistic talents of our citizens.
In prime time fiesta mode, we can transcend the barriers of time and space and realms of the dead and the living. And we can munch on sugar skulls and dragon toes while we celebrate lives well-lived and days very worth living and celebrating, here in the fiesta capital of the world.
¡Viva FTFS!
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at dmoore@lcsun-news.com, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter or call 575-541-5450.

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