Oh summertime, when the livin' is ... well ... hot and summery. It's time to plan for some much-needed vacation time, hit the road and head out on an array of leisurely excursions. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of a festival is “a special time or event when people gather to celebrate something.” What that something is relies solely on a particular person's wants and needs. Do you like motorcycles? Do you like aliens? Do you like music? Well, the Land of Enchantment has heard your plea for that elusive R and R, and it's answering your prayers with some enticing festivities to replenish your spirit and make the forthcoming autumn seem less irksome. Here's a little rundown of some festivals happening throughout New Mexico you can look forward to this summer.
Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Festival
First, there's the Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally
in Red River, N.M., from May 21 to 25 (redriver.org/memorial-day
). It's a mere three-hour drive north, which is nothing when you take into consideration that some folks make that drive with the wind in their helmets and bugs splattering their goggles. So no whining, ya hear? The event features over 20,000 motorcyclists, live music and vendors offering food and leather (and sometimes both at the same time). And it's also an opportunity to take a cruise through the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, which boasts some of northern New Mexico's most beautiful scenery (bugs included).
If that's not appealing, you can head south to Silver City for the 20th annual Blues and Bikes Festival (mimbresarts.org/blues-festival-homepage). Happening May 22 to 24 in Silver City's Gough Park, it'll be three fun-filled days of music and motorbikes. Bands like Dusty Low, The Pleasure Pilots and The Campbell Brothers provide some tunes while you indulge in a bike show, a bike run or the Wall of Death. I'm not quite sure what that is, but it sounds deadly (which means cool in some cultures). Ticket prices vary depending on what portions of the fest you wanna partake in, but what's a little dinero for some mad fun?
May seems to be a-boomin', as there's also the Mayfair in Cloudcroft, N.M (coolcloudcroft.com/cool-arts_events/mayfair). A juried art show happening May 23 and 24, this is a 42-year-old tradition that features works from a vast pool of talented New Mexico artists. The event offers everything from wood art to photography to pottery to jewelry to glassworks. And there's food! And music! What's not to like? You get the visual with the aural and edible. Yes please!
But if you're the outgoing type who wants to see some real-life extraterrestrials, then you might wanna skip on over to Roswell's 2015 UFO Festival.
Challenge Arts and Crafts Festival.
And while we're on the topic of arts fests, why don't you head just a smidgen north toward the historic Santa Fe Plaza for the Challenge New Mexico Arts & Crafts Festival (challengenewmexico.com). Now in its 37th year, the juried art show displays the work of over 200 national and local artists. And the proceeds from the artists' booth fees go to Challenge New Mexico, a nonprofit organization that provides “therapeutic recreation possibilities for the disabled.” So if you're an artist with a charitable heart, get a booth space and give to a great cause. And if you're an art lover, head out to the Fe on June 13 and 14 to soak up some original works under the beautiful summer sun.
What are your plans for the Fourth of July? My plans include re-watching Independence Day while bingeing on Häagen-Dazs' dulce de leche ice cream and pretending I know how to barbecue. But if you're the outgoing type who wants to see some real-life extraterrestrials, then you might wanna skip on over to Roswell's 2015 UFO Festival (ufofestivalroswell.com). Happening July 3 to 5, the fest contributes such a massive variety of events, it's almost too much to take. There's live music, an alien pet contest, an alien chase, street entertainment, a light parade, a fireworks show on the Fourth, and that ain't the half of it. So do yourself a favor and try for this one, ya hear?
If you're still in a festive mood after some close encounters of the New Mexican kind, then you can always head back to Cloudcroft for their July Jamboree
arts and crafts show (coolcloudcroft.com/cool-art_events/july-jamboree
). This 33-year-old tradition kicks off on July 11 and 12 at Cloudcroft's Zenith Park and is a favorite for makers of all things. It also has live entertainment and food. So if you like to chow down while scoping original works by fellow New Mexicans, this is the place to be.
Besides motorcycles and art, we know what gets your heart pumping: music and beer, baby! So do yourself a favor on July 18, and head to the northwest for the Animas River Blues & Brews Festival in Aztec, N.M (animasriverblues.com). Held at Riverside Park, you get five fantastic blues bands for the mere price of $22, and that's just for starters. There'll also be food vendors, artists, crafters and, of course, some fine brews to sate anyone who likes a little craft beer with their blues. Featured musicians include the Michael Lee Blues Band, Kelly Richey, Harlis Sweetwater, Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry and the Austin Young Band. PS: There's free tent camping at the park if you wanna stay and make a weekend out of it.
If you're not quite ready to quit summer and go back to the mundanity of school and work (but you're also too impatient for Expo New Mexico's State Fair), then you can always head to Lovington, N.M., near the Texas border, any day from July 31 to Aug. 8 for the Lea County Fair & PRCA Rodeo (leacounty.net). The whole week includes concerts, a carnival, extreme bull riding, arts and crafts, food vendors (I hope they have funnel cakes), a Hispanic Heritage Celebration and much more. The gates open each morning at 8am, and admission is free until 1pm every day. If you're a late sleeper, prepare to pay $8 for adults and $6 for the kiddos. Not a bad deal, no?
These are just a few of the many events happening around New Mexico this summer. And if you're a homebody who doesn't like to leave the Duke City, be sure to check the Alibi calendars for events happening in Albuquerque over the summer. It's gonna be a good one; can you feel it?