Chile, cheese, piñatas and entertainment — come for the Chile Cheese and Piñata Festival, stay for the Eastern New Mexico State Fair
By Christina Stock
MainStreet Roswell, the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce, the Eastern New Mexico State Fair and the city of Roswell are working together for the first time to provide over a week of festivities for the entire family at one location: the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 2500 S. Main St.
Kicking off the events is the Chile Cheese and Piñata Festival — entry and parking are free of charge — on Sept. 27-28. The festival celebrates the area’s rich cultural and economic heritage, which includes on both days vendors, carnival rides, and the Southwest Dairy Farmers mobile dairy classroom where children and adults learn where the milk for cheese comes from. The traveling milking parlor features a live cow and trained instructors will demonstrate how to milk a cow.
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Graves Farms will be there roasting green chile, there will be ristra-making demonstrations and, of course, the popular ice cream, taco and jalapeño eating contest.
Also, for the second time, the Green Chile Stew Contest, which the Roswell Daily Record sponsors. Last year’s winners were Laura’s Cafe, El Chupacabra Foodtruck and Gina Dwyer. Who will be the winner this year?
Leprino Cheese Factory opens its doors for four tours on Saturday. Those who want to join have to adhere to the strict dress requirements.
At the Piñata Festival on Saturday, there will be piñatas for the kids to break and get candy.
“We’ll have great entertainment on both dates,” executive director of MainStreet Roswell Kathy Lay said. “MainStreet Roswell is responsible for doing the entertainment Sept. 27 activities. The following day, the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce is in charge of providing the entertainment and actions for the community.”
“This is one of the first times we are going to be marketing an event in both languages, usually it’s only in English. I think it’s going to be exciting,” executive director of the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce Marcos Nava said.
According to Lay and Nava, both days intertwine activities — only the entertainment and the special events are divided up — which helps with organizing and keeping the cost for advertisement and the city’s involvement lower, they said.
On Sunday the ENMSF sets up for the fair starting on Monday. Details about the fair will be available in the State Fair tab on Sept. 29, which will be inserted in the Roswell Daily Record Sunday edition.
Asked if the festival events will be indoors or outdoors, Lay said, “This will be outdoors. They are already setting up indoors for the fair. We will not have access to those buildings. There is the little ice cream parlor that the Southwest Dairy Farmers have. They do a fundraiser for the 4H and they will be open a little bit doing their ice cream fundraiser. That is inside and the bathrooms are inside, but ours is an outdoor event.”
New this year are two paint parties on Saturday, which are in the hands of artist Peggy Krantz. Up to 30 people can participate in each party — pre-registration is required. Times for the paint parties are 1 and 4 p.m. The theme is Red or Green Chiles.
“You do pay for the material and her time, but she is giving a portion of the profits to MainStreet Roswell, and we’ll use it for our downtown projects,” Lay said. “Also, during a spin to win (at MainStreet Roswell’s booth), our downtown merchants are going to be providing prizes and coupons, discounts and people can come by and spin to win to get prizes. We still want to provide some kind of leverage to get people to come to our downtown district. So in doing the prize wheel with prizes that are going to bring them downtown, it will help us to get the word out about how great our downtown is. That way we can continue to promote our downtown district with the festival.”
The Chile Cheese Festival opens on Friday at noon with vendors and live music at 1:15 p.m. by IFNOTHINGELSE. Behind the unusual name is an American indie alternative acoustic artist based out of Texas, Dylan Jones. With only an acoustic guitar, vocals, and a foot tambourine, IFNOTHINGELSE brings original music reminiscing ‘90s punk emo music, which he blends with new age, indie alternative tunes.
Jones said, “My message to everyone would be: If nothing else, catch your breath, and start again. Failure is not an option, it is only a road with a detour. If you truly want to follow your dreams, don’t be afraid to fail, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to not give up.”
Marie Manning is performing at 2:30 p.m. and Trinity Soul is performing in the late afternoon/early evening. The dynamic power trio Trinity Soul plays originals and hits from the 1960s to today. They masterfully blend musical styles such as rock, blues, neo-soul, jazz, funk and reggae.
At 7:30 p.m., Ruidoso’s Flying J Wranglers are performing. “We have had a great summer at the Flying J Ranch and we are looking forward to having a great time with everyone on the evening of the 27th there in Roswell,” James Hobbs said.
Their love of music and performing, especially traditional Western Music, has made them favorites of many throughout the years.
Hobbs sings lead and tenor, writes western songs and plays the rhythm guitar. He mixes in his dry humor from time to time — to the delight of some and the confusion of others.
A former national champion yodeler, Cindy Hobbs is a strong and pure western music vocalist. She brings a special energy and warmth to the stage. Also part of the Flying J family are Jayson Jones (bass guitar, mandolin, guitar, fiddle and vocals), Tim McCasland (guitar, banjo and dobro), Corinna Ripple (fiddle and vocals).
Sept. 28 entertainment is in the hands of the Roswell Hispano Chamber and there are some new events planned after vendors open at 8 a.m.
“All the fun that Kathy mentioned will continue also on Saturday,” Nava said. “We will start at 11:30 a.m. with some DJ music, keeping people happy and hearing some nice Tejano and nortena music, and we will bring in a couple of new events. We’ll have a cantante — a song contest, which I think it’s going to be fun.”
The song contest will take place from 12:45 to 2 p.m. Contestants have to pre-register with the Roswell Hispano Chamber and list the songs as well.
“We are asking them to come prepared to sing three types of different songs: Norteno music, romantics, Tejano, cumbia or rock ‘n’ roll. We are asking them to bring the music playback so we can have it ready. There will be prizes for first, second and third winners. Following, we’ll have a dancing contest. Be prepared to dance three different kind of music: norteno music, cumbia and rock ‘n’ roll,” Nava said.
Registration and further information for the song and the dance contest should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 575-420-8787.
The piñata breaking takes place after the song and dance contest.
“We are going to have four piñatas full of candy just like back in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries,” Nava said.
“At 5:15 we’ll have the famous taco and jalapeño eating contest (registration is required and limited to 10 participants), which is being sponsored by Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen. I was excited during my first event at Cinco de Mayo, this young lady from Wisconsin won the jalapeño eating contest. She has the bragging rights of winning. Hopefully she will be able to come and defend her crown or we’ll have a new champion,” Nava said.
According to Nava, a large variety of music entertainment will continue into the evening.
“At 6:45 p.m., we’ll have some great entertainment,” he said. “We start off with Cuic Solo — he sings in Roswell for many years. He is a great performer and I think everybody will be happy to hear him.”
At 7:45 Anthony Torres, The Piano Man, performs. “What excites me about him is, he is a great entertainer, he imitates different singers, plays music and does impersonations such as Elton John, The Beatles, Ray Charles, The BeeGees, Louis Armstrong, George Strait and Billy Joel. If you close your eyes while he is performing, it’s like they are the ones singing. He is that good of an impersonator,” Nava said.
In a phone interview Torres talked about his art. This will be the first time in more than 20 years that he is performing at the Piñata Festival.
“I was born and raised in Roswell,” he said. “I started playing in my dad’s band at 12 years, and it was my dad and three of my uncles who had a band together in Roswell. I went into the garage every time the band practiced. I fell in love with music and come sixth grade, I started to learn alto saxophone. So I started performing at quinceaneras and weddings with my pops. My mother bought me an accordion at a garage sale. I fell in love with that instrument. I played saxophone, accordion and keyboard and just loved it. We always played Tejano music, but would mix in a variety of music. Any kind, any genre of music you can think of, I listened to it. I incorporated it and now 32 years later, I am just the Piano Man and I enjoy it so much.”
Torres said that being in Roswell is like a homecoming because most of his family still lives in town. “I enjoy it and have so much respect and love for everybody out there in Roswell and I always look forward seeing everybody. I hope everybody still enjoys The Piano Man music,” he said.
The Cavern City Boys will perform at 8:45 p.m. “They are a family of performers that have been playing together for 30 years,” Nava said. They play Tejano and Tex/Mex music. They have won different awards, Battle of the Bands and Best Performers in New Mexico in the past. I think we have three great hours of entertainment.”
Lay said, “We also have some craft vendors and a variety of merchandise vendors, as well. There will be kettle corn and barbecue, we have shaved ice, toys, jewelry, glass etching, bullet jewelry, raffles, specialty sodas and all kinds of toys and some nonprofits. Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell is going to be bringing out their simulator. The Job Corps will be there.”
Asked about security, Lay said that there will be a security presence and signage for the free parking.
“A lot of volunteers have their first aid training and they will be on hand. We will have a first aid kit at our information booth,” Lay said.
On Sunday the fair will set up their booths to be ready to open on Monday.
“Between the city, the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and the ENMSF board and MainStreet Roswell it’s like the legs of a table. It’s better in support and we are doing cross-promotion,” Lay said. There are tons of sponsors; we have so many that are contributing to make it a really great event,” Lay said.
The times and events may change because of the weather. Updates will be available on the event’s Facebook page.
Details about the music entertainment at ENMSF will be in next Sunday’s edition of the Roswell Daily Record.
For more information, visit MainStreet Roswell’s Facebook page, or call 575-914-8018, or contact Nava at email@example.com or call 575-420-8787.