1 Eat all the funnel cake.  

The first weekend of the New Mexico State Fair is upon us with indulgent eats, cute animals, carnival games, and whooshing rides at Expo New Mexico, in Albuquerque. An annual tradition since 1938, the fair can make anyone feel like a happy kiddo. Activities include a flower show, duck races, steel drum bands, stilt walkers, a frybread contest, sea lions, an Arabian horse show, a petting zoo, mechanical bull rides, a demonstration from Diné weaver Pearl Sunrise, a hoop dance performance by Jared Massey, milking demonstrations, Ballet Folklórico del Valle, a parade, axe throwing, the 2022 Battle of the Salsas, and much, much more.

Oona Gonzales, the fair’s media and marketing manager, says joy radiates from everyone this opening weekend. “I can sense the excitement,” she says. “Everyone is so happy to be back.” Gonzales strongly suggests buying tickets ahead of time, especially if you plan to attend the rodeo. MegaPasses are available until midnight Friday; they come with fair admission for one day and an all-day ride pass. “It’s the best weekend deal,” she says. 

Narbono Begay is among the artists participating in the BeCause exhibit at GallupArts. Photograph courtesy of GallupArts.

2 See a social-justice art show.

Important issues inspire the works in BeCause, a new exhibit opening Saturday at Arts123 Gallery, in Gallup. Artists Joshua Whitman, Narbono Begay, Darin Tom, Katie Schultz, and Nalmerthan Pablo tackle language loss, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and addiction issues. “I think this is one of the most diverse and eclectic shows we have done,” says Rose Eason, executive director at GallupArts. “We are using some grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to do a series of guest-curated shows on social justice, and we got so many great proposals that we decided to do this show with five artists.”

Eason says grant-supported exhibits allow artists to create unexpected works. Tom, a fashion designer and musician, is making a tent-like garment that speaks to the issue of unhoused people. “It is a statement and a reminder that when we talk about ‘homelessness,’ we are talking about real people,” Eason says. Whitman is featuring an immersive large-scale painting, and Shultz presents a series of ceramic sculptures. “I think the show will make people rethink these issues, and the works will speak to one another in really interesting and important ways,” she adds. See BeCause through October 1.

What would the 40th annual Pie Town Festival be without a pie eating contest (there's even one for kids and adults)? Photograph courtesy of the Pie Town Festival.

3 Savor a slice of small-town life.

Kathy Knapp, former owner of the famed Pie-O-Neer Pies, knows a perfectly flaky crust as well as the lay of the land in Pie Town, where the 40th annual Pie Town Festival rolls out on Saturday.

“I tell people to come early, stay late, and bring their dancing shoes,” she says of the event, which hasn’t been held for two years. The festival is a fundraiser for the Catron County mountain town and its new playground. Entry is free, but the purchase of pies supports the cause. This year, volunteers made 500 blueberry, cherry, apple, and strawberry rhubarb hand pies for the event.

It all happens across the street from the Pie-O-Neer in Jackson Park, where food vendors offer barbecue, Navajo tacos, ice cream, and corn on the cob. Catch live music, talented miniature ponies, games for kids, and a 7 p.m. dance in the community center. The town crowns a Pie Queen—a community member of any age who has done a lot for the town over the last year—at 1:30 p.m. Pie Town homesteader Kathryn McKee Roberts will do the honors. “It’s as homespun as it gets,” Knapp says

Las Cruces's monthlong Monuments to Main Street celebration kicks off on Friday. Special hikes, bike rides, and yoga are just part of the fun planned. Photograph courtesy of Visit Las Cruces.

Celebrate the Las Cruces landscape.

Access all the adventure Las Cruces has to offer this month through Monuments to Main Street, kicking off Friday with a fiesta at the Plaza de Las Cruces from 6 to 9 p.m. Parks and Recreation sets up games for kiddos alongside food trucks and live performances from Soul Parade, visiting from El Paso, and Wamaygallo, out of Ciudad Juárez. “September is such a beautiful time of year in Las Cruces,” says Hilary Dutcher, destination experiences manager at Visit Las Cruces. “There are wildflowers, the cacti are blooming, the weather is great, and it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the land and cultural offerings we have in Doña Ana County and Las Cruces.”

The monthlong celebration highlights local festivals like the White Sands Balloon and Music Festival (September 16–18), the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Fiesta in Mesilla (September 17–18), National Public Lands Day (September 24), La Viña Winery’s Harvest Festival (September 24–25), and the 2022 Salsa Fest (September 25). Special hikes, outdoor yoga, and guided tours are all part of the outdoor party. See a full Monuments to Main Street schedule of events and locations. 

Jazz legend Albert "Tootie" Heath joins Emmet Cohen and Russell Hall at the Harwood Museum of Art, in Taos. Photograph by Heritage Image Partnership LTD/Alamy. Heritage Image Partnership LTD/Alamy

5 Enjoy jazz at the museum.

Santa Fe–based jazz legend Albert “Tootie” Heath, 87, has drummed alongside greats like John Coltrane. Pianist Emmet Cohen, 32, has recorded with Heath and other masters such as Jimmy Cobb. At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the two join bassist Russell Hall at the Harwood Museum of Art, in Taos, for a program that proves the genre’s timeless capacity to reach musicians and listeners of all ages. “I would call Tootie a spiritual grandfather,” Cohen says. “He’s a mentor, and someone who has given my peers so much love and guidance. He always remembers to have a good time, which is a beautiful life lesson.”

Cohen says Heath knows most of the entire history of jazz, as he was around for much of its creation, playing on John Coltrane’s first album and with Nina Simone. “The music we can choose from is so broad,” he says. “So, we like to cover some of the classic repertoire from the history of jazz music. It’s just this really amazing feeling playing with him. The moment he strikes the cymbal, the whole room gets sucked into his groove.”

Cohen releases a new album next month, Uptown in Orbit, inspired by the concerts he hosted in his apartment in Harlem throughout the pandemic (he has over 75,000 followers on Instagram). The duo also plays at Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque on Thursday, and at SITE Santa Fe on Friday.

Read More: For even more things to do, check out our full calendar of events.