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Spotlight: A tale of two chambers

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Christina Stock Photo The Rise Over Roswell Balloon Rally brings balloon pilots from all over the state, Colorado and Texas to Roswell.

Rise Over Roswell and Cinco de Mayo promises family-friendly entertainment

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

This year is the second time that the Roswell Chamber of Commerce and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce put their efforts together to entertain the public.

The weekend of May 3 to May 5, the place to be is at the Russ DeKay Soccer Complex for the 32nd annual Balloon Rally Rise Over Roswell and Cinco De Mayo festivities.

The first treat will go to children of the Roswell Independent School District. On Friday morning, balloonists will be on hand at the elementary schools for a close look at what it takes to make a hot air balloon fly. The public is invited to the opening ceremonies of the festivities at 6 p.m. Weather permitting, the evening program on Friday and Saturday will be framed with a balloon glow.

The entertainment program on Friday and Saturday is in the hands of the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce. Marcos Nava is the newly appointed executive director.

“It is going to be a fun event,” Nava said. “We have the balloons on Friday and then on Saturday in the morning until 10:45 a.m. Then, we are going to have entertainment. We are going to start off on Friday at 6 p.m. We are going to have a welcome by the mayor and then we will have country music. We have two performers, Anthony Torres, whom I hear is a spectacular performer. He imitates a lot of famous singers. He is a great entertainer. Then we have a country musician, Frank Ray.

Rolling Stone Magazine has named Ray as one of 10 Artists You Need To Know. This former police officer of 10 years left his full-time job to pursue his passion as a country music singer. Leaving behind a stable career, he shares his talent with the world with what he calls the beginning of a Latino country movement. His solo debut EP “Different Kind Of Country” was released in July of 2017 and his first single, “Every Time You Run” broke top 10 of the Texas Country Radio charts and is currently sitting at No. 9. Ray has shared the stage with greats such as Keith Urban, Granger Smith, Josh Turner, Eli Young Band and the list goes on and on.

Ray grew up in San Antonio, Texas, but currently resides in Las Cruces. Surrounded by the farmlands of New Mexico, Ray’s inspiration to his song and EP titled “Different Kind Of Country” came from the Hispanic immigrant experience in America. Ray and his band has been hitting the road all over the United States from New York to Nevada. Ray has taken social media by storm and has grown a massive following in just a short time. Changing the game, he vlogs every time he hits the road. Every episode is raw, from emotional struggles to high energy performances, Ray shows it all. The audience can clearly see the passion and dedication Ray and his band have for the project. “It’s a way for me to connect with the fans on a personal level sharing adventures on the road from heartfelt moments to funny conversations. The game is changing with how social media helps an artist develop and it is amazing to see what it has done for us so far.” Ray said.

With his first single topping the charts shortly after its release, Ray doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Roswell is part of his rise.

Candace Purcella, executive director of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to the weekend, as well. “We are excited about this,” she said. “It looks like we have about 33 balloon pilots coming to Roswell over the weekend. There are going to be lots of balloons floating around. The majority will be from Albuquerque and northern New Mexico. We do have some from Texas and Colorado who are making the trip down here to fly. They have been flying in this balloon rally for 30 some years, at least. They love Roswell. I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from the pilots, how they love coming to Roswell — the weather, the people, all the things they get to do here in Roswell.”

The Rise Over Roswell Balloon Rally starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, which includes playing of the National Anthem and pilot’s prayer. The balloons plan on launching at 6:30 a.m.

“It is very hands on,” Purcella said. “If a pilot doesn’t have enough crew they will find somebody from the audience and ask, ‘hey, you want to help out?’ If you do, you might get a chance to ride up in a balloon. If you are willing to put in a little work that early in the morning, you might get up in the air with one of the pilots.

“It is very intimate, you get to meet some of the greatest people. These pilots are very humble, down to earth, they really love flying their balloons. It’s really one of the things that I am really happy that the Roswell Chamber of Commerce took over, taking over this balloon rally and seeing it through and keeping it here in Roswell for all of us to enjoy,” Purcella said. “We are excited on partnering up with the Roswell Hispano Chamber again this year. We got some great things going on with the Hispano chamber, the entertainment side of the weekend.”

Nava said that the popular jalapeño and taco eating contest will happen on Saturday afternoon. “Saturday, starting at 10:45 a.m. all the way to 10:15 p.m., we are going to have entertainment,” he said. “We are going to start at 10:45 a.m. with a DJ and after that, we are going to have a performance by the group Homegrown Boyz. I hear they are all fantastic groups. I am really excited, we have two folklorico groups. We have one that has been around for a long time, the Roswell Folklorico under guidance of Frank Herrera, they will be performing, and the new group Así se Baila. The jalapeño and taco eating contest is sponsored by Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen.

What is a jalapeño if it isn’t nice and spicy. As we say in Spanish, caliente. At the end, we have the Grupo Culpa, Brillantes and Bengala performing,” Nava said.

“It is a family event, it is going to be fun, it’s free — there is no cost to walk amongst the balloons. When it comes to entertainment, it’s first come, first serve and no cost,” Nava said.

There will be a variety of food trucks from roasted corn to funnel cakes and concessions as well as a beer garden for adults. There will be also inflatable bounce houses and a mechanical bull.

“We just want to encourage everybody to come out and support the chambers so we can keep putting this event on for the community,” Purcella said. “We combined the two events and try to keep it in one location.”

Asked if there will be plans for future cooperations between the chambers, Purcella said, “Absolutely. Marcos, bless his heart, he pretty much hit the ground running when he was appointed the executive director over there (March 1). He’s been great and I have been enjoying working with him.

“Marcos and I are going to start early in July and start planning for next year’s event,” Purcella said. “Next year’s event will be something to talk about. We will have a lot more vendors, more interaction with the pilots — I’d like to have a small scale Albuquerque Balloon Festival. That’s where my head is. I have ideas of photography contests and to get some of our local artists out there and do stained glass balloons that the kids can do, hands on and make it a weekend that is educational for our kids; make it a family event for mom and dad and then keep them there at night and do the live entertainment in the evenings and all the fun stuff. We are getting our feet wet how everything is working, what we can foresee in the future and what this event in the future can be.

“I think within a couple of years, we’ll get some things worked out and I know for sure, I feel very confident, next year is going to be the start of a really great event,” Purcella said.

Festival proceeds are donated to local and regional charities. Prior rallies have donated to the New Mexico Military Institute Balloon Scholarship Fund, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The First Tee of Southeastern New Mexico, Roswell Assurance Home, Roswell Cerebral Palsy fund and Roswell and Goddard high school bands, to name a few.

(In box:)

Program

Friday, May 3

6 p.m. Welcome and opening ceremonies

Sunset Balloon glow during concert (weather permitting)

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Anthony Torres

8 to 9:30 p.m. Frank Ray

Saturday, May 4

6 a.m. Welcome, National Anthem and pilot’s prayer

6:30 a.m. Balloons launch (weather permitting)

10:45 a.m. DJ music

Noon to 1 p.m. Home Grown Boyz

1:15 to 2:15 p.m. Roswell Folklorico

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Downtown Vibe

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Así Se Baila Folklorico

4:30 to 5 p.m. Jalapeño and taco eating contest

5 to 6 p.m. Culpa

Sunset Balloon glow during concert

6:15 to 8:30 p.m. Brillantes

8:45 to 10:15 p.m. Bengala

Sunday, May 5

6 a.m. Welcome and pilot’s prayer and National Anthem

6:30 a.m. Balloons launch (weather permitting)

For more information, call the Roswell Chamber of Commerce at 575-623-5695 or the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce at 575-420-8787.