Monday, February 1, 2016


LAS CRUCES  -  I’ve seen a lot of remarkable, handmade, beautiful and imaginative valentines recently, in the course of researching stories about February For the Love of Art Month and today’s feature on Valentine’s Day style in the Borderlands.
But there’s no contest when it comes to choosing my favorite Valentine this year. I’ve known since last summer, when the New Horizon’s probe approached Pluto with the ashes of the planet’s discoverer, our own Clyde Tombaugh, on board.
My first glimpse of what has become my favorite valentine of the new millennium was announced by Clyde’s daughter, Annette Tombaugh of Las Cruces.
“There’s a heart on Pluto!” exclaimed Annette. She and her brother Alden Tombaugh and their families were gathered to watch last July’s Pluto flyby in Laurel, Md., at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which designed, built and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

It was the latest episode in what is clearly one of the most romantic, cosmic love stories of all time, at least for Aquarians like Clyde (who was born 110 years ago on Feb. 4) and me.
There’s a lot of love in the Tombaugh family, as anyone lucky enough to get to know them can attest. Neil deGrasse Tyson, though once in the forefront of those Grinches who called for Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet, dubbed the Tombaughs the nicest family he’d ever met after they welcomed him with open arms and open minds when he came to Las Cruces to film a PBS NOVA show on Pluto.
The family, including Clyde’s beloved wife, Patricia Edson Tombaugh, were there for the Jan. 19, 2006, Florida launch of the New Horizons Probe.
Patricia, who left planet Earth at age 99 in 2012, had hoped to be here with us to watch the flyby of the little celestial body that the couple brought to the attention of thousands of school children in lectures and special programs throughout their long lifetimes.
Many of us agreed that the heart was the kind of cosmic valentine the loving, creative couple would want to send us.
I check in every now and then with the New Horizons mission to Pluto website at to see what’s happening with analysis of data the probe is still sending us, and I always pause to visit those first, heartwarming images.
I did some internet surfing recently, and discovered the heart (which was quickly christened “Tombaugh Regio”), has attracted a fan base itself.
I found a slightly modified “I heart Pluto” valentine on, the Society for Spontaneous Singing website, which sponsored a cosmic songwriting contest. For a good time, by the by, check out Rhett & Link’s “Pluto on the Rebound” video,
Cyberspace romantics and, I suspect, more than a few scientists, wax poetic, about Pluto, its moons and that amazing Pluto Regio. Some claim that it is the most perfectly shaped, and “largest natural heart” in the solar system, galaxy, or, heck, the whole of creation.
I don’t have the resources to verify sources for the whole of creation, and if Pluto has taught us anything, it’s that uniqueness is more important than size.
Let’s just say it’s a very fine heart. Our cosmic valentine: Here's looking at you, Pluto.
Annette, like her parents, is a dedicated educator, and shares their love of science and sense of humor and fun.
"My dad loved astronomy and he put a heart on Pluto. Pluto says, 'I love you no matter what you call me,'" Annette said last year.
Happy Valentine’s Day, local and cosmic Tombaughs, and Pluto and its moons and lovely heart-shaped Regio. Las Cruces loves you, too.
P.S, Don't forget to celebrate Tombaugh Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature & Science. There will games, demos, workshops and an intriguing lecture on a timely topic: "What would a 9th planet mean for Pluto?"
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at  575-5450, or @derricksonmoore on Twitter.


LAS CRUCES  -  Some say February For the Love of Art Month will be better than ever this year.
After a couple of years of reporting on dying and dramatically altered fiestas, I’m happy to see that FLAM is still going strong.
So are its founders, Kelley Hestir and Myriam Lozada-Jarvis.
It was fun reminiscing with them about the event’s beginnings, long ago at a lunch meeting at Myriam’s art-filled Mesilla Park home. Others have carried the torch since then, but both Myriam and Kelley have expressed an interest in planning some wild and crazy antics for the event’s 20th anniversary in 2018. (At least we think that’s when it happens; since the first FLAM celebrations were freestyle, there is some controversy about when it officially began. )
Many dedicated and professional volunteers have devoted a lot of time, heart and soul over the past two decades to make FLAM an ongoing enterprise, involving thousands or artists and arts aficionados and an amazing number of visual artworks, poems, plays, literary readings, exhibit venues and art happenings.
Among my favorites, over the years, were what would now be called a pop-up gallery, late at night in a deserted Lohman Avenue building; a benefit event involving the creation of exotic shoes, painted by local artists; and a multimedia bash at what was then the Hilton, featuring unique floral arrangements, and culinary art by local chefs, served up on tableware made by regional artists. The artistic banquet tables also featured a cancan line of spirited dancers. There was a talent night with poems and standup comedy at El Patio and one of my all-time faves: a whimsical art car parade.
Kelley remembered that Miguel Silva was there to lead and cheer us on, as he did so many art events, wearing some of his remarkable hats or his impressive drum major uniform. We’ll think of you during FLAM, Miguel, and cheer for peace and adventure for your artistic alma y corazon.
And let’s all cheer for FLAM itself, an example of what artistic souls can do with heart and spirit to showcase a community which has extraordinary talent that finds creative ways to transcend limited monetary resources. To paraphrase a credo from the artistic hippie era: Art can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no art.
“Back then, it was daunting to imagine that it would be so successful,” said Kelley, who said that FLAM has exceeded its founders’ wildest expectations.
Which is not to say there isn’t room for expanded artistic dreams. They knew Las Cruces has the right artistic stuff, and that confidence has helped create so much more than a month of artsy fun in a community that now boasts a monthly gallery ramble, state-of-the-art venues like the ASNMSU Center for the Arts and the refurbished Rio Grande Theatre, an ever-growing performance art and literary community, and a burgeoning roster of other arts resources and opportunities.
At the first FLAM celebrations, Kelley said, she loved seeing art in new places, like beauty salons and restaurants and offices, something that seems more common these days.
“I’d like to see a lot more of that, more involvement with the university and regional schools and a lot of businesses and organizations participating,” Kelley said.
David Jacquez, one of the heroes who has helped keep FLAM alive and get it into right-sized, sustainable shape, stressed that though ArtForms is the official founder and sponsor, FLAM is for all of us.  
It’s a month to use your artistic license to thrill, entertain and beautify yourself and your surroundings. It’s not too late to organize an art exhibit or happening at your home, club or office. Sing and dance at the gym. Start an impromptu flash mob with your friends and family at your favorite restaurant or supermarket checkout line.
And don’t forget FLAM WAPP (For the Love of Art Month Wearable Art Parade and Promenade) next Saturday Feb. 6. Search your closets for your most artistic hat, jewelry or other wearable art garb (or better yet, make or buy something new and wonderful). Then, strut your stuff at the Saturday morning Las Cruces Farmers’ and Crafts Market on Main Street Downtown and amble artistically over to celebrate For the Love of Art Day that afternoon on the Mesilla Plaza.
And don’t feel you have to confine your artistic expression to a one Saturday or even a single month.
Use Feb. 29 as a Leap Day kickoff for a whole year of artistic fun in one of the most creative cities and states on the planet. Share your talent and your appreciation for our artistic bounty. Happy FLAM 2016!

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


Sometimes, seemingly unrelated stories I’m working on seem to come together in interesting ways.
That happened recently, when I was working on today’s SunLife story about teaching manners to kids, and also a feature on the benefits of family togetherness for our February Healthy U Magazine.
I ran across a website called the Dinner Project that made me wish I’d tried even harder than I did (which was a lot) to have more family dinners with every generation in my life.
Like Ann Palormo of Las Cruces, who discussed the impact of technology on family dinner times, I remembered a time, as a tot in the 1950s, when we moved out of the dining room. It happened pretty quickly, it seems now, as soon as we got our first television.
Dad grumbled a lot, but before long, the chore list of my sister and brother and me went from setting the table to setting up the TV trays, and like most families of the era, we gathered around every night to watch the Mickey Mouse Club and the nightly news and then fight over which shows we’d watch on the three or four channels available at the time.
In what I now think of as a masterpiece of diplomacy, my parents decided each of us, including mom and dad, would get a week when we could decide which programs to watch. Every five weeks, my word was law, and I don’t ever remember my parents overruling our choices.
We talked between programs and during commercials, so conversation continued, but I don’t think it was as profound or interesting as it was during dinner at my grandparents’ homes, where TV was banned, or during our frequent camping trips, where the campfires and bright stars seem to encourage the sharing of deep thoughts.
“I think loss of conversation is a tragedy that will catch up with us at some point,” Ann concluded.
I thought about that a week later, during a discussion on etiquette and manners with Irene Oliver-Lewis.
“It’s ironic that what we call social media isn’t social at all, if you’re on the phone all the time and ignoring the people you’re with. We need a little of that real socialization to keep us together as a community,” Irene said.
We discussed the challenges of trying to communicate with kids when you’re competing with their smart phones, and thus, the whole world. Kids now have at their fingertips access to a lot more than a single TV with a few channels, though they can probably find and stream almost every TV show I’ve ever watched and much more: songs, movies, the infinite wealth and trash of the internet, plus all their actual friends and favorite celebrities in infinite forms: Facebook, Snapchat, texting, Tweeting, Instagramming and several other forms they’ve probably discovered and mastered in the time it’s taken me to write this column.
Inevitably, while discussing manners and etiquette with my friends, there were wistful longings for more civility in everyday life and, particularly In this strange election year, in politics.
Any student of history knows that politics has always been a dirty game, but however views differed, and tempers heated, public discourse seemed much more courteous and thoughtful when I was a child. I don’t recall Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stephenson or even John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon behaving in ungentlemanly ways during debates and discussions.
But then again, when private papers and now legendary tapes surfaced, we have perhaps learned that things weren't really so different. We just didn’t get the inflammatory sound bites, texts and tweets so instantaneously.
Or maybe we are suffering the inevitable consequence,of three or four generations having been entertained and diverted by increasing seductive technology, when they should have been learning manners, brushing up on their etiquette and practicing the art of polite conversation.
I hope it’s not too late, and I’m planning to have more leisurely dinners with family and friends this year, at the dining room table. No phones, please.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450. (Or better yet, let’s have dinner and really talk.)


LAS CRUCES  -  The visual arts in Las Cruces are alive, well, thriving and popping up in some new and exciting places these days.
You’ll have a chance to explore at the source during February For the Love of Art Month, when a record number of artists will participate in the group’s FLAM studio tours.
I was recently asked to speak about the state of the visual arts in the Mesilla Valley, which inspired some pondering.
Galleries are where most people think of finding art, and we have a burgeoning amount of them, including some pockets of art throughout town and groupings that could be considered art districts.
The biggest art district is now downtown Las Cruces, mostly clustered on and around Main Street and Mesquite Street. There are now enough galleries in the Main Street area to make it a challenge to try to visit them all during the downtown Ramble from 5 to 7 p.m. the first Friday of each month.
Though Mesilla has waned in terms of official galleries, the picturesque adobe town still has several shops, boutiques and restaurants that feature original art, along with what I believe is the area’s oldest and still one of the best cooperative galleries, the Mesilla Valley Fine Art Gallery. With the Border Artists, Las Cruces Art Associations and ArtForms Artists Association, and the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, such cooperative groups have done a lot to bring attention to the talent based here.
Adobe Patio Gallery, now located in the Mesilla Mercado, still ranks in the oldest and finest category, along with The Cutter Gallery, which gives University Avenue its anchor art site. The campus art resources include the University Art Gallery in NMSU’s Williams Hall, and some impressive exhibits of arts, crafts and artifacts at the nearby University Museum in Kent Hall. Both have innovative exhibits focusing on everything from cutting edge modern to ancient indigenous arts and some world class permanent collections.
The campus itself is a kind of movable feast of visual arts, with murals and sculptures, and buildings, from graceful Trost treasures to the new ASNMSU Center for the Arts, and the extensive campus art collections inside.
Other museums are also bountiful sources of art collections and exhibits, including the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, and the city’s Museum of Art, Museum of Nature & Science, Railroad Museum and the Branigan Cultural Center. Whatever their primary focus, Las Cruces museums and the Branigan Library all offer changing and permanent attractions for visual arts aficionados.
Other areas with groupings of galleries or burgeoning colonies of artists include Picacho Avenue and Picacho Hills, North Las Cruces (artists in the region, led by Roy Van der A, David Jacquez and Flo Hosa Dougherty, have joined to present the periodic North Valley Art Loop Tour).
As it is in other New Mexico art meccas like Santa Fe and Silver City, art is an everyday staple just about everywhere here: at doctors’ offices, health food markets, churches, and boutiques. You’ll find regular rotating art exhibits at tattoo parlors, interior design studios, offices, coffee shops, hotels and schools.
Pop up galleries are a new and growing trend, sometimes showing up in vacant store fronts, old bunkers at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, or recently, at a trailer outside the NMSU Art Gallery.
You’ll find treasures (some sophisticated and cutting edge and sometimes funky, vintage and just plain fun) in out-of-the-way neighborhoods, like Art Obscura, 3206 Harrelson St., by the railroad tracks in Mesilla Park, or the new Desert Roots, 1001 S. Solano, a kind of combo arts coop, tea, coffee and snack shop and salon with period art classes and live entertainment. Newer galleries that have been offering some cutting edge contributions to arts here include Nopalito's Galeria, and Unsettled Gallery, both on Mesquite Street, and Rokoko in Mesilla. We’re already missing West End Art Depot and hope its spirit and creators reemerge soon.
Don’t forget the large, ever-evolving category of special event art opportunities, including the increasingly prestigious annual Las Cruces Fine Arts Festival in March at the Las Cruces Convention Center, the Doña Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance Arts Festival, the Franciscan Festival of Fine Arts, Native American Arts Festivals at NMSU and Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, Las Cruces Spanish Colonial Arts Festival, and arts and crafts at nearly all of our regional and seasonal fiestas, even if they are more known for celebrating things like beer, wine, salsa, balloons ,blues, jazz, rock, rocks, pumpkins, cowboys, comics and,  well…you get the idea.
The Mesilla Valley is a very artistic place and the visual arts are a big part of everything that puts the creativity in Cruces. If you have any doubts, it should be even more obvious than usual, very soon, during February For the Love of Art Month.  
  S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES  - There’s nothing like getting to know your territory better, whether you were born here or are a newcomer to the Mesilla Valley and southern New Mexico.
I was reminded that I’m somewhere in between, and still have a lot to learn when I went on a couple of Ted Turner Expeditions ecotours. (I wrote about my adventures in Sunday, Jan. 3 Las Cruces Sun-News. Check out what it’s like to roam with the bison at
I focused on a five-hour tour to the Ladder Ranch. Our guide, as it turned out, was Ken Stinnett, a photographer and biologist I’ve known for years. I was surprised at how much I learned about the nearby territory, even though I’ve spent a lot of time in the area, and did an extensive series on the archeological digs at nearby Cañada Alamosa for the Sun-News and a piece for New Mexico Magazine.
Traveling with others, I also realized that it’s fun (and informative) to see our territory through new, as well as experienced eyes.
As we trekked through isolated territory on a warm December day, we’d hear a flutter of wings and before we could grab our binoculars, Ken had already identified several species taking flight. (We trusted his renowned birder skills: by the time we spotted most of flying critters, they were tiny specks in the bright blue sky.)
If you’re fortunate, as I have been much of my life, you’ll be able to find knowledgeable guides whenever you move or travel to a new territory.
I got a good start with wilderness-loving parents in Michigan. Dad taught us how to spot everything from white-tailed deer to several kinds of snakes, frogs and trout.
Thanks to mom’s botanical skills, before I entered elementary school , I could identify several kinds of pines and other Midwestern trees, and had already started scrapbooks with pressed and sketched examples of my favorite wildflowers: columbines, the hard-to-find Jack-in-the-Pulpit, delicate little white trilliums and trailing arbutus, with its lovely ethereal fragrance.
I suppose an arbutus by any other name, or gone unnamed entirely, would smell as sweet, but there was something about being able to recognize and name each flower that delighted me as a little kid. Each spring and summer, it was like greeting old friends for a flowery reunion fiesta.
I never really felt at home in Connecticut or New York, and I’ve since wondered if that was because I knew so little about nature and wilderness areas there, when and if you could find any, in the densely populated areas.
I had better luck finding knowledgeable nature mentors in other places I’ve lived: my tree-hugging, dolphin-rescuing sister Sally in Florida, Gregg Weston in Jamaica (who knew that allspice is a berry, not a blend?) and a host of wonderful sources in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
On my first visit to New Mexico at a cave management symposium, I met Dr. Milford Fletcher, then regional chief scientist for the U.S. Park Service, who helped educate me on everything from monsoon season to bats, when I moved to Santa Fe.
When I arrived in Las Cruces, I quickly found many friendly souls who taught me bits and pieces here and there and steered me to a source I recommend to all newcomers: The Southwest Environmental Center’s Saturday Back by Noon series of nature hikes. (Check out their hikes and other great programs at
I learned about native plants and medicinal herbs on a tour with Deborah Brandt, R.N., a Healthy U magazine columnist and owner of From the Ground Up. SWEC’s executive director Kevin Bixby educated me about the Rio Grande. Thanks to the efforts of Kevin and SWEC, another wonderful resource is available for nature lovers: Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, where the visitor center offers a great guide to local plants and wildlife, and the trails offer opportunities to experience it all yourself.
Other wonderful sources for me have included state and national parks and the cactus gardens at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, along with programs and exhibits there and at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature & Science.
Keep your eyes open and ask questions: you’ll find a lot of information about our fragile, wonderful, high dessert country, and a lot of people willing to share their knowledge. I hope that the more we know, the more we’ll work together to preserve it and share it with new generations.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.


LAS CRUCES  -  Many of us will remember 2015 as a watershed year for fiestas.
When I arrived in Las Cruces more than two decades ago, I coined the term Full-Tilt Fiesta Season as we watched the season expand and add some superweekends that seemed full to overflowing with events and saw festive new concepts springing up annually.
But in 2015, some of our favorite long-running fiestas and others that have celebrated 15th and 20th anniversaries, called it quits, cut back or charged forms.
Perhaps the biggest shock was the end of the Whole Enchilada Fiesta, founded in 1980 and long-billed as Southern New Mexico’s most popular cultural event. Robert Estrada, who in 2003 was awarded the Guinness Book of Records title for creating the world’s largest enchilada, quit and came back again, but in 2015, the all-volunteer group decided the time had come to say adios. TWEF leaves warm memories for generations of Las Crucens and visitors from throughout the world. In December, in the spirit of generosity exemplified by Estrada and TWEF’s volunteers, the group donated its treasury of $22,000  to other nonprofit foundations.
After 17 years, the Southwest Environmental Center decided its resources were spread too thin to continue the labor-intensive Raft the Rio event, which was not held this year. They invited other groups to continue the effort to focus attention on the joys of hanging out at our no-longer-so-grande endangered waterway, and all three local Kiwanis are joining to continue the festive event, which includes costumed river fans voyaging in rafts made from recycled items.
“We’re happy they’re taking over and looking forward to helping them with the transition,” in 2016, said Kevin Bixby,  SWEC’s executive director.
Venues were an issue for the Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference, which trained and educated thousands of mariachi musicians and singers and folklorico dancers over the past two decades and brought top entertainers to perform and teach here. Founder Phyllis Franzoy announced that the nonprofit group, which fielded one of the largest gatherings of its kind each November, has had trouble securing suitable venues after New Mexico State University schedules and policies have changed. The group had an abbreviated event at Las Cruces Convention Center in 2014 and sponsored Mariachi Sunday concerts in Mesilla in 2015.
Denise Chávez, who founded the Border Book Festival with Susan J. Tweit, announced that the once-popular event would end after more than two decades and workshops and other events that attracted thousands of book fans and authors, poets, musicians, artists and chefs. An online presence and some literary events will continue at Casa Camino Real, 314 S. Tornillo St., Chávez said.
After more than a decade, White Sands International Film Festival committee members announced in January that the festival would end due to financial challenges and cuts in donations and sponsorship.
In June, the birth of the new Las Cruces International Film Festival was announced, to be hosted by the New Mexico College of Arts and Sciences. Ross Marks, who headed successful WSIFF productions, will serve as executive director of LCIFF, which will be held March 2 through 6.  Marsha San Filippo will be LCIFF producer. Keagan Karnes will serve as the festival's artistic director and screen legend Danny Trejo will be the first LCIFF honoree.
"It will be bigger and better and have a different focus. We'll be presenting films that have won recent honors at the world's major film festivals, like Cannes and Sundance, the best of the best," Marks said. Primary LCIFF venues will be Allen Theatres Cineport 10, the Rio Grande Theatre, Hotel Encanto and NMSU. Watch for updates on
Though it will not be part of the LCIFF, Marks said, the Mark Medoff Lecture Series at NMSU will begin "concurrently" with the new festival. The first lecturer will be Emmy and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, producer and playwright Aaron Sorkin.
The Mesilla Valley Balloon Rally, in its heyday an event that welcomed the public to balloon launches, glows and a community festival, is no more. But we can still look up and see some big beautiful balloons Jan. 16 and 17. What was once a public rally and then a fly-in has become a private event, the Mesilla Valley Aerostat Ascension Association Fly-out, and still attracts  balloon pilots from throughout the Southwest.
Amidst all the changes, there are some bright spots, with both new and long-term festivals that continue to thrive and evolve, including the monthly Downtown Ramble, which started as an annual Artwalk as well as Downtown Partnership, Project Mainstreet and Las Cruces Farmers' and Crafts Market special programs like evening markets, the New Year's Eve Chile Drop, and red-carpet events.
The Doña Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance Arts Faire added a new feature this year: a New Mexico True Camino Real section that showcased artisans demonstrating traditional arts and crafts the way they would have been created during the Renaissance era here. DAAC’s executive director Kathleen Albers said the section will be expanded and enhanced at the 2016 festival. The same approach was stressed by the Santa Fe-based Spanish Colonial Society, which has extended its territory to bring Spanish Market events to Albuquerque, and in 2015, to southern New Mexico. The group’s second annual Las Cruces Spanish Market will be Feb. 20 and 21 at Hotel Encanto.
Some regional festivals have thrived with “right-sizing,” niche specialties (from the Hatch Chile Festival to Cowboy Days at New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum) and appeals to specific or broader demographics.
The Franciscan Festival of the Arts, which long ago morphed into RenFaire, has enjoyed continuing success by returning to its smaller scale at its original location at Holy Cross Retreat.
Food and drink continue to draw big crowds. Any fest with wine or beer in its title seems to prosper at diverse venues that range from the New Mexico State Fairgrounds to regional wineries, the Las Cruces Convention Center, plazas, museums or theaters. SalsaFest is holding its own, and up-and-coming festivities celebrate bourbon, bacon, nuts, pumpkins and a variety of other home-grown products.
Las Cruces’ increasing reputation as a cultural mecca is fortified by the success of annual events like the Las Cruces Arts Fair in March and Dia de los Muertos special events and new exhibits, anchored by Mesilla’s Day of the Dead celebrations, now an established part of Mesilla Plaza borderland traditional fiestas that include Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis de Septiembre.
New and special interest groups continue to spring up and develop new festivals  and special events. Bellas Artes Sin Fronteras formed in late 2015, with a goal of nurturing multicultural arts and education.
The Las Cruces Country Music Festival has been cited as a good example of a major new fiesta success story. Superstar Kenny Rogers headlined in 2015 and this year’s fourth annual event April 29 through May 1, is expected to attract an ever-growing country music fan base. Las Cruces Convention Visitors Bureau Director Philip San Filippo came up with the concept, and after fielding similar events, had the contacts and expertise to make it a great local fit.  Focus groups determined that we already had a reputation as a mecca for country music fans (thanks largely to decades of efforts by Barbara Hubbard in bringing top names in country, rock and pop to Pan Am).
It’s a hopeful model.
As we add venues like the new downtown plaza and learn to make better use of those we have, fiesta organizers are recognizing that we’ve grown and tastes continue to change and evolve. Building on the work of talented and visionary founders, a willingness to hire professionals and evaluate what the public needs and wants can help us move into a new fiesta era.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @DerricksonMoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.

Busman's Holiday Nov. 8, 2015 repost

LAS CRUCES - "Your job  would be a lot of fun if you didn't have to write about it all, afterward," my sister once noted after accompanying me on some of my rounds during a visit at the height of Full-Tilt Fiesta Season.
That particular visit was in the fall, several years ago, and included a trip to Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mesilla, where we built an altar to commemorate our creative and wonderful mom, as well as trips to Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, Columbus and Palomas, Mexico.
We were officially on vacation, but my sister, also a journalist, and I  both planned to do some freelance travel features.
It became a running joke: "That dinner would have been  delicious, if only  the souflee hadn't fallen and the soup hadn't gotten cold and the ice cream hadn't melted while we were making notes about it all."
Or the condensed version that became our vacation mantra: "It's more fun to eat lunch than to write about it."
As  it has become more challenging to satisfy the multimedia, diverse platform demands of my job, my traveling companions have become more exasperated.
Dr. Roger, who hates to be photographed, has been a surprisingly good sport over the years about lending his back for human perspective shots at locations ranging from City of the Rocks to rocket museums.
But I suspect I've tried his patience as I lingered to get just the right light on aspens for a still photo,  videos of  folklorico dancers, or an Instagram of another allegedly best New Mexico green chile cheeseburger. 
Even spontaneous, serendipitous moments of vacation fun and surprise can be compromised when you try to mix journalistic business with pleasure. When I discovered I hadn't captured a crucial angle when a greedy goat jumped a fence and snatched a snack out of his hand, my companion noted my disappointment and  graciously volunteered to attempt a reenactment, but we both knew the time had passed.
Sometimes, I admit, I'd like to vacation anonymously in a world that sometimes seems desperate to publicize their causes, events, and/or themselves. It can be tough, after covering arts, entertainment and culture in the same territory for two decades, to attend any prime time attractions without being besieged with story requests, fliers, business cards, and sometimes even books and CDs.
I try to explain I'm on vacation, but it doesn't really work in one's hometown, where I have been beseeched in my health club's swimming pool, locker room  and even into the shower, places where I am clearly unequipped  - and disinclined - to take notes.
Though New Mexico is the fifth biggest state in our nation, I've found that the small world maxim applies and  there is no refuge for someone who has worked for New Mexico Magazine and daily newspapers in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.
Last year, I spent part of a vacation with a friend who is a much better photographer than I am and realized what I have made my loved ones endure. While I took a few quick candids that will probably never be seen by anyone but me,  she spent hours setting up shots and carting around her weight in camera equipment. I finally left her to it, and went off to relax and enjoy the event on my own.
And, give or take a quick cell phone video or two, that's what I did on my recent staycation. I went to some new events I'd already advanced and showed up without a pen, notebook or camera to enjoy some  fun attractions I've covered for decades, but never attended as a civilian, especially wearing very dark sunglasses and a very big hat. And no media credentials on a chain around my neck.
But I also realized how grateful I am to have a job I enjoy in a place I love so much that I want to spend my vacation on my own leisurely version of a  kind of A & E busman's holiday.

I had some great times. And except for this column, I didn't write a word about them afterward.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at, @derricksonmoore on Twitter and Tout, or call 575-541-5450.