Above: The Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup includes music and dancing. Courtesy The Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup.
All year, Lincoln Historic Site visitors meander through a town preserved as it was in its Wild West heyday. The home of what President Rutherford B. Hayes called “the most dangerous street in America” comes alive in a dramatic re-creation of its bloodiest moments for Old Lincoln Days, August 4–6. The Lincoln County War ignited in 1878 amid an effort to bust up a dry-goods monopoly and culminated with Sheriff Pat Garrett’s shooting of infamous outlaw Billy the Kid in 1881. The action plays out in an annual pageant. Peruse the local shop shelves still lined with 19th-century merchandise, scan the horizon for intruders from the village’s torreón, and atone like Billy never would at the San Juan Mission Church. (575) 653-4372; nmmag.us/Lincoln17
Even though he didn’t see much on his first visit in the early sixties, Dudley Byerley remembers the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial pretty well. He was about 13 and working the rodeo stockyards. His biggest thrill: the 19-cent hamburgers he’d cadge from the Burger Barn across the railroad tracks. “People still drove wagons in those days,” says Byerley, who worked with the rodeo for years after that. Today he’s president of Gallup’s 96-year-old signature event, August 4–13.
“A lot of people traveled for days, camped out at the arena, and stayed there for weeks at a time.It was like a homecoming for these families. It was just amazing.”
Today, Ceremonial (the in-crowd drops the “the”) draws Native Americans from across the continental United States, Hawaii, and Mexico, including the Zuni, Apache, Navajo, Chickasaw, Hopi, Comanche, and Ohkay Owingeh, and about 60,000 visitors. The parades down Old Route 66 are still popular. (Some people stake out a spot four or five hours early, Byerley says.) The weekend powwow and almost daily dances offer a spectacular taste of the cultures represented.
The art exhibition and indoor/outdoor markets return, including about 100 Navajo vendors in nearby Church Rock. There’s more: a Native American Film Festival at the historic El Morro Theater, a golf tournament, wine tasting, and All Navajo Open Mic. Byerley can likely be spotted at Red Rock Park’s rodeo competitions and August 13 Old School Days. “In the old days, they had wild horse races, wild cow milking, buffalo riding, and a lot of those Native races. Last year we did that,” Byerley says, laughing, “and boy, people loved it.” (505) 863-3896; theceremonial.com
The caretaker at the historic Castaneda Hotel, still under renovation, sometimes wakes to the sound of a cane tapping past his bedroom. His dog sits up to listen, too. Such stories of the inexplicable kept surfacing over the five years that Kathleen Hendrickson has put together the Places With a Past Historic Homes and Buildings Tour through Las Vegas, New Mexico, which has more than 900 homes on the historic register. This year, she’s focused on ghosts for the August 5 event.
The lineup of haunts includes the Castaneda, El Fidel Hotel, Montezuma Castle, and the Plaza Hotel, said to host the lingering spirits of onetime owner Byron T. Mills and an opera diva still heard singing in the room where she died. Augment those icons with stops at private homes where current residents share their own chilling tales. Curious to track a spirit of your own? Ghost investigators demonstrate how they explore the paranormal. (505) 425-8803; lvcchp.org
SWING, BATTER, BATTER
Nonstop action overtakes the town of Chama during Chama Days—just ask the softball team. Their marathon game starts at noon on Friday, August 10, and the bats don’t stop swinging until 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 13.
If you prefer to observe a contest that comes with a splash zone—and on a sunny summer afternoon, a thorough soaking might just be in order—catch the tug-of-war style contest among area firefighter crews. Other festivities include rodeos and calf roping, and evening dances keep things steaming into the wee hours. Hop aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad to relax by day, chugging across the state’s northern mountains. (575) 756-2184; chamavillage.com
CHILI, CHILE, CHILLIN’
Should your heart desire—and your belly offer the fortitude—you could sample up to 100 entries in the sanctioned chili cook-offs during Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights in Red River, August 16–19. Put your taste buds to the test with the New Mexico State Green Chile Championship and the best in Texas-style chili. Meanwhile, Lone Star State troubadour Larry Joe Taylor and a lineup of country musicians brew up enough tunes to spill from saloons, fill downtown’s Brandenburg Park, and ring from a mountaintop venue just a chairlift ride away.
“It’s one of our biggest draws, something we’re known nationally for,” says Evan O’Rear, of the Red River Chamber of Commerce. “If you’ve never been to Red River, this would be a great time to come see what we’re all about.” (505) 770-3030; larryjoetaylor.com
The Great American Duck Race draws thousands to Deming August 24–27 for a carnival atmosphere that surrounds the main event, which pits one mallard against another in a race to see who reaches the far end of the pool first. A car show, parade, mass ascension of hot-air balloons, horseshoe tournament, and, intriguingly, a tortilla toss fill out the schedule. Rules for tortilla tossing are clear: whether thrown Frisbee style or backhand, where the majority of the tortilla lands is what counts. The rest is merely duck food. (575) 567-1469; demingduckrace.com
WINING AND DINING
When the idea started coming together for a food-and-wine event in Angel Fire, town boosters settled on one clear priority: Make it about meat. The resulting lineup for the inaugural Angel Fire Food and Wine Roundup, August 24–27, includes New Mexico ranchers plating up A Bar N Ranch’s Wagyu beef and Kyzer Farms’ pork. All courses will be served in a combination perhaps best labeled as “cowboy gourmet” and include treats like a chuck-wagon meal and foraging for the mushrooms that turn into lunch. Chef dinners at private homes seat about 40 people. While sipping your Black Mesa lavender-infused wine, you get to converse with both the vintner and the lavender farmer.
“It’s not just chefs and restaurants; it’s people who are proud of the products they produce—and they want to share it with you,” says event director Kate Collins. “What better way than a big piece of beef coming off the grill?” (505) 470-6012; angelfirefoodandwine.com
THE ART OF FENCING
For the second year, The Fence embeds art in the day-to-day of Santa Fe, one of only seven U.S. cities to host this outdoor, juried photography exhibit. The 1,000-foot, site-specific installation, which snakes through Railyard Park July 22–October 29, features more than 300 large-scale images from up to 60 international and regional photographers. The entries are as different as the shooters. Tough and whimsical. Epic and in-your-face. Abstract, artsy, and Kodak-moment elemental. About four million people are expected to see the show nationwide. Some artists will even connect with collectors caught unawares.
“It’s usually a jogger,” says Sam Barzilay, who has co-organized the project since the first Fence went up in Brooklyn in 2012. “They call and say, ‘I jog past the fence again and again and again. Could you introduce me to the photographer?’” thefencenm.org