CINDY HOBBS AND HER HUSBAND, JAMES, founded the Flying J Ranch cowboy dinner and show in 1982 at their high-mountain acreage in Alto, north of Ruidoso. They followed with a traveling holiday-themed act some years later. Once pandemic restrictions eased last year, the ranch hosted its first White Mountain Christmas. While the all-hands-on-deck production returns for a second year, Cindy, a former national yodeling champion, is busier than one of Santa’s elves. You’ll find her doing everything from baking fluffy biscuits for the Old West–themed meal to dazzling audiences with cowgirl flair and cheerful song.
WE DO A HAYRIDE AROUND THE PROPERTY. There’s thousands and thousands of Christmas lights. They’re incredible. All the buildings are lit up. It’s still a ranch atmosphere, just done up for Christmas. We have visits with Santa available every night. We have some little outdoor stoves throughout the property so families can purchase s’mores kits and roast marshmallows. There’s hot cocoa available. Most nights we have some of our local community members who come out and carol in the meadow while everything is going on.
We ring a bell and bring them in for a meal. I make the biscuits and cut the cake. Then we do our Christmas show. It is probably my favorite part. We perform a lot of Christmas favorites, both secular and religious.
The response last year was tremendous. People loved it. It’s kind of a surprise—they feel like they’ve walked into a winter wonderland, with the effects and the lighting. It was one of the most fun things I think we’ve ever done. It was a blessing to us, too, just to see people so excited to be together again after Covid, experiencing Christmas together as families. Plus, it was just flat-out fun to get up and do the Christmas music. It’s a departure from what we normally do.