Singin’, dancin’, and eatin’ are just the tip of the saddle horn at Cowboy Days, the biggest annual event at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, in Las Cruces. Cowboy music by genuine New Mexico talent, dancing, chuckwagon food, and horseback and stagecoach rides lure many festivalgoers, but the kids love the mock gunfights and roping, riding, and horseshoeing demonstrations. “New this year are horse-mounted shooting demos,” says spokesman Craig Massey, “using blanks, of course. We’ll also have real working dogs herding sheep out in the livestock areas.” Exhibits at the museum will be open during the festivities. (575) 522-4100;

Since 1988, the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show (February 28–March 2), at the Sandia Resort and Casino, has been the nation’s largest annual exposition of spicy food products. “Last year we had over 20,000 people,” says Emily DeWitt, event co-organizer and niece of show producer/ chile-pepper expert Dave DeWitt, “and 2014 will be even bigger, with more than 250 exhibitors.” This year’s show also boasts a guest of honor. James Beard Award–winning fusion-cuisine chef Norman Van Aken will conduct cooking demonstrations with chiles and other ingredients (505-873-8680; The fourth Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest (March 22–23) hits Expo New Mexico with 100 of the finest chocolatiers, coffee roasters, candymakers, bakers, wineries, and breweries from throughout New Mexico and the Southwest. Three stages of entertainment include cooking demonstrations, a chocolate sculpture contest, baking and eating contests, music, and plenty of family games and activities. (505) 510-1312;
MARCH 1–31

This year marks the ninth anniversary of Women & Creativity, a series of events presented by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in conjunction with the Harwood Art Center, to honor Women’s History Month. “We’re offering close to 70 workshops, demonstrations, performances, and exhibitions,” says event founder and co-coordinator Shelle Sánchez. The 2014 lineup, which takes place at various venues in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and other locations around the state, includes numerous art shows, including The Spirits Speak at El Chante: La Casa de Cultura gallery in Albuquerque (March 7–31). The exhibit features work by artists Concha Flores and Sandra Casus. On March 29, catch Reptilian Lounge—Women & Creativity Edition, a late-night cabaret at Albuquerque’s Tricklock Performance Laboratory. (505) 246-2261;
MARCH 8, 15, 22

Taos Ski Valley is under new ownership after being purchased by billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon, but it was Ernie Blake and wife Rhoda who pioneered the big-mountain getaway back in the mid-1950s. The annual Ernie Blake Birthday Torchlight Parade and Fireworks celebration (March 8) honors Ernie’s contributions to winter sports with skiers making their way down the mountain at sundown, using flares to light their way. A fireworks display follows the parade. (575) 776-2291; In Vadito, Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort hosts its 10th annual all-ages Cardboard Derby (March 15). Using only cardboard, duct tape, twine, and paint to make sleds, competitors race down the mountain, vying for thousands of dollars in prizes. At Sipapu’s annual Pond Skimming Contest (March 22), skiers and snowboarders zip down the ski area’s main run and attempt to skim across a man-made, three-foot-deep pool known as “Lake Sipapu.” (800) 587-2240;

Composed between 1914 and 1916 by English composer Gustav Holst, The Planets, Op. 32 is a soaring, seven-movement orchestral suite from the Late Romantic period that paints an astrologically focused portrait of our solar system as it was known at the time. Hobbs native Dr. Mark Jelinek, longtime artistic director for the Southwest Symphony, leads the orchestra in a multimedia performance of Holst’s magnum opus at Tydings Auditorium, in Hobbs. (575) 738-1041;

When highly sought-after Texas country producer/ guitarist Lloyd Maines (Grammy–winning father of Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines) and Texas indie singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Terri Hendrix share a stage, pure music magic unfolds. Crafting an energetic blend of folk, pop, country, blues, and swinging Big Easy jazz with a dash of playful banter, these two have a die-hard following that runs three generations deep. The frontier-theater-style performance space at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House, in Pinos Altos (near Silver City), is the perfect locale to host Maines and Hendrix for a night of original tunes, Woody Guthrie covers, and tales from the road. The gig is part of the venue’s ongoing Indie/Folk Series. (575) 538-2505;
MARCH 21–22

Choreographer Nicolo Fonte is renowned for his uniquely intense and uncompromising work. “He has been a great pillar of our repertoire in the past,” says Andre Bouchard of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which established the inter-city dance partnership in 2000. “A world-premiere commission at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe will be our eighth commission by Fonte.” These two evenings of mixed repertoire by ASFB also present performances of Cayetano Soto’s Beautiful Mistake, set to the music of Olafur Arnalds and Charles Wilson, and Norbert de la Cruz III’s critically acclaimed Fold by Fold, his second commission for ASFB. (505) 988-1234;
MARCH 29–30

To commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Glorieta Pass—the most decisive battle of the New Mexico Campaign during the American Civil War—Pecos National Historic Park, in the village of Pecos, presents its yearly Civil War Weekend. A living-history encampment re-creates 1862 military-battlefield life, while costumed artillery companies offer demonstrations using gunpowder-loaded period firearms. Civil War historians will be on hand for special lectures, discussing topics such as the medicine used during that era, and teams of costumed soldiers will show off their marching skills. Activities for kids and tours of the Glorieta battle site will also be offered. (505) 757-7241;

Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian) broke out in 1993 with the short-story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which was nominated for the PEN/ Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. More than 20 books later, the National Book Award winner continues to thrill readers and audiences with his irreverent wit and unique command of the short-story form. To promote Blasphemy, his latest collection exploring contemporary Native American life, Alexie comes to Popejoy Hall, in Albuquerque, to read his new and classic stories and poems. (505) 925-5858;