Fall is festival season, and after a year of lockdown and social distancing, we are readier than ever for in-person fun. Cooling temperatures and wide-open spaces lure the restless out-of-doors, and to accommodate these crowds, enterprising men and women are working diligently to create an abundance of events to inspire and entertain. Here are just a few, right in our own backyards!
Labor Day weekend is generally the kick-off for festival season, and there are several annual festivals in Las Cruces. The weekend of September 4 – 5 marks the Franciscan Fine Arts Festival, an outdoor event on the beautiful grounds of the Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park. It generally features 80 – 90 artists displaying a variety of styles of artwork, along with an enchilada dinner, a silent auction, a beer and wine garden, and live music on two stages. For more information, visit HolyCrossRetreat.org/festival.
Also taking place that weekend is the New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, September 4 – 6. This ticketed event features more than 100 of New Mexico’s finest wines, with vendors pouring samples and selling by the glass and the bottle. Food trucks are also available, along with arts and crafts vendors and live music throughout each day. Raise a glass! For more information, visit facebook.com/LCWineFest.
The Labor Day weekend event that can claim to be the “hottest” is the world-famous Hatch Chile Festival, September 4 – 5. This year, the organizers have moved the festival away from the airport and onto the streets of town to make it easier to visit local shops and still get your chile fix from traditional festival vendors. This year’s event will include sporting events, a parade, a carnival, and other entertainment provided by local businesses. For more information, visit HatchChileFestival.org or call 575-267-5132.
On September 16 – 17, the 17th Annual Gila River Festival in Silver City, the Gila National Forest, and along the Gila River comes roaring back. This year’s hybrid event (in-person and virtual) explores our connection to nature and to each other. Expert-led field trips, “wild and scenic” river hikes, horseback riding, fly fishing, and more are part of this unique festival experience. For more information, visit GilaRiverFestival.org or call the Gila Conservation Coalition at 575-538-8078.
One of the biggest draws of the season is the Mesilla Valley Maze in Fairacres, every weekend from September 25 – October 31. Featuring a giant corn maze, duck races, hayrides, giant slides, a pumpkin patch, musical entertainment, and more, this down-home festival is rustic fun for the entire family. Don’t forget to bring your camera! For more information, including ticketing and hours, visit MesillaValleyMaze.com, or call 575-526-1919.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fairs. Fairways, carnival rides, fried anything, and stock contests are staples of the Southern New Mexico State Fair & Rodeo, September 29 – October 3. Also that weekend is the Sierra County Fair in Truth or Consequences. But if you just can’t wait for fun on the fairway to begin, there’s also the Socorro County Fair, September 3 – 5; the Cliff-Gila Grant County Fair, September 22 – 26; the 82nd Otero County Fair & Rodeo, September 22 – 26; and the El Paso County Fair, September 24 – 25.
Here’s something new! The Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium has been reimagined for 2021 as the All American CowboyFest, September 30 – October 2. This family-friendly, four-day festival at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack is a celebration of Western culture, with live country music on three stages and a rough-stock rodeo on the racetrack. For more information, including ticketing and hours, visit AllAmericanCowboyFest.com.
October 2 also marks the return of Way Out West Fest to Southwest University Park. El Paso’s premier country music festival features not only great music from the likes of modern traditionalists Cody Johnson and Randall King, but also a Texas chili challenge, the Quest for the Best Margarita Contest, an outdoor dance floor, retail and food vendors, and so much more. Tickets and information are available via the website at EPWayOutWest.com.
And for those who like their festivals really “out there,” Roswell is hosting its annual Roswell Galacticon & SciFi Film Festival October 23 – 24 at the Roswell Convention & Civic Center. This “spacey” event consists of a vendor hall, workshops, panels, role-playing games, celebrity guests, and juried short and full-length feature films projected at the Roswell Planetarium. For more information, visit RoswellGalacticon.com.
November gives us the 50th Anniversary of the Doña Ana Arts Council’s Renaissance ArtsFaire at Young Park in Las Cruces, November 6 – 7. Along with the usual revelry and artistic splendor, this year organizers are introducing a huge chess board with human “pieces.” There will be jousting by the Order of Epona, an extra-large silent auction, and more special treats yet to be announced. For more information, visit daarts.org/Renaissance-Artsfaire.
There’s also the Las Artistas Art & Fine Crafts Show at the Epic Railyard Event Center in El Paso, November 20 – 21. This festival provides a venue for local, regional, and national artists, as well as emerging artists, to show and sell their work. For more information visit LasArtistas.org or email [email protected]
December is holiday festival time, and Carlsbad kicks it off in grand style with the 40th Annual Christmas on the Pecos, November 26 – December 31. Featuring an enchanting 40-minute boat tour through a fairyland of twinkling light displays along the Pecos River, this magical holiday adventure has been dubbed a top must-see event in North America. For more information, including ticketing, visit ChristmasOnThePecos.com or call 575-887-6516.
The town of Hillsboro again offers their annual Christmas in the Foothills on December 4. Highlights include the popular $49.99 Art Sale, raffles, food vendors, and craftspeople selling handmade holiday wares. For more information, call 575-895-5457.
Finally, traditional holiday festivals may be all the rage, but the 25th Annual Elephant Butte Festival of Lights on December 11 may be the only holiday festival that includes a luminaria beach walk and a floating lights parade in addition to caroling and visits with Santa Claus. For more information, call 575-755-5923.
As always, there are far more festivals and events than can be included in one article. Many we would have liked to announce were unconfirmed by press time. As we ease back into life post-pandemic, organizers are understandably cautious, and some have elected to plan for 2022 rather than rush to meet 2021 deadlines. Rest assured, many of your favorites will be back next year. In the meantime, if you would like to keep up with the latest events and most up-to-date festival news in the area, visit LasCruces.com. Viva Fiesta!
Written by David Salcido
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com