New Mexico Celebrates Centennial with “Cattle Drive of the Century”

On May 9-12, 2012, Lea County and Eddy County will partner to present the “Cattle Drive of theCentury.” Working cowboys will drive 100 head of longhorn cattle 45 miles from the PitchforkCattle Company ranch headquarters in Lea County starting at 8 a.m. on May 9 to the Eddy CountySheriff’s Posse Arena in Carlsbad, arriving about 11 a.m. on May 12. The cattle, branded with aspecial “Centennial Brand” designed by high school students in Jal, will be auctioned off on May 12. Thepublic is invited to participate in the ride three ways.

* Dude Ranch Experience – participants will be provided everything they need to ride for threedays and camp each night, including a horse, tack, camping equipment, etc. All meals andentertainment are included. Each rider will be assigned a wrangler who will assist during theride. Cost: $1,800

* Wagon Train & Trail Riders Experience – available for riders with horses, or mules and wagon,to travel along with the cattle and enjoy three meals a day and entertainment each evening.Participants must provide their own equipment and horse or mule. Cost: $225

* City Slickers – anyone may join the cowboys each evening by taking buses departing at 5 p.m.from Carlsbad or Hobbs to the camp site. There they will enjoy a chuck wagon dinner andentertainment. Cost: $75 per night

Bert Madera, owner of the Pitchfork Cattle Company, has organized the ride and is providing thelonghorn cattle. “I’m proud to be a part of New Mexico’s centennial celebrations,” said Madera. “Duringthe drive we’ll ride the range with seasoned wranglers, camp under the stars, eat dinner from chuckwagons, and gather round the campfires for poetry, singing and storytelling.”

In addition to everyday cowboys riding the trail, there will also be well-known entertainers performingeach evening. At the main campfire, award-winning Michael Martin Murphey will entertain eachnight. Stroll to nearby campfires, and enjoy the likes of Andy Wilkinson (direct descendent of Charles Goodnight), Andy Hedges, Mike Moutoux, Glen Moreland, Washtub Jerry and other great performers.

End of the Trail: Cattle Drive Round-Up Festival – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On May 12, the cattle drive will end its journey in Carlsbad about 11 a.m. at the Eddy County Sheriff’sPosse Arena and will be sold at live auction at approximately 2 p.m. Attractions at the all-day freefestival include vendors, re-enactors, western entertainment, children’s area, rodeo activities, and lotsof food for purchase.

Michael Martin Murphey will perform a concert at the Walter Gerrels Performing Arts Center inCarlsbad starting at 8 p.m. Cost is $25 online at www.carlsbadlive.net or $35 at the door.

For additional information or to purchase tickets for the “Centennial Cattle Drive” visit http://nmcentennial.org/events/ and link on Centennial Longhorn Cattle Drive, or call 575-392-6730.