Above: The Liberators perform gunfight reenactments at Rawhide Days.

Photography by Connie Loveland Photography



BEAR WITH US

Smokey never sleeps. For 70 years, he’s educated Americans about the dangers of wildfire. From his humble beginnings as a real-life bear cub saved from a Lincoln National Forest fire, the fuzzy mascot is celebrated at Smokey Bear Days, May 5–6, in Capitán, an annual weekend filled with live music, kids’ activities, a parade, and a car show. The whole town shows up for an auction of Smokey memorabilia, a Saturday-night street dance, and other ursine amusements. Don’t miss the chainsaw carving competition and the firefighters’ challenge, a rodeo-style skills test for local ladder men (and women). (575) 354-2748; smokeybeardays.com



RAWHIDE RIDES AGAIN

For years, Tucumcari radio DJ Karen Alarcon had heard tales of Rawhide, the 1959–1965 TV series that gave a young Clint Eastwood his start and was partly filmed in town. She wanted to capitalize on that heritage with an ambitious celebration combining Old West gunfights, food, music, and a cattle drive down old Route 66. “The town thought I was nuts,” Alarcon says. But along with fellow DJ Russell Brazil, she made it happen. The Rawhide Days revelry returns for a second year May 5–6, with longhorn cattle, chuck-wagon cooks, nightly concerts, a Little Miss Rawhide contest, and even a bucking machine called Sir Loin. Special guests include Mark Brinegar, son of Tucumcari native Paul Brinegar, who played Rawhide’s cook, Wishbone. The Next Generation Band features the children of country music stars Roger Miller and Hank Williams, and the show’s Sheb Wooley. Watch episodes in the city’s historic Odeon Theatre and get rustic at the two-day blacksmith competition and auction. (575) 461-1400; tucumcarirawhidedays.com



OH ME, OH MAYO

Traditional papel picado flutters above the plaza in historic Mesilla as the village throws its annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, May 6–7. Ruffled skirts twirl and silver conchas gleam during time-honored folklórico dances and mariachi performances, vendors hawk corn (popped or roasted) and ice cream, and kids scramble for their share of a piñata’s bounty. The free party starts around noon each day, and there are enough carnival games, vendors, and música mexicana to keep the whole family entertained well into the evening. (575) 524-3262; mesillanm.gov



FIBER OPTICS

Every other year, the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council stages a huge Fiber Arts Fiesta at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque. May 19–21, visitors will see some of the best in the nation—seamstresses, beaders, weavers, felters, quilters, knitters, you name it. The juried show asks some of those exhibitors to offer classes, so you can pick up tips on making lace, spinning yarn, perfecting darts, assembling dolls, and naalbinding, a type of knotless knitting that pre-dates regular knitting by about 1,000 years. Little needlers are especially welcome, with demonstrations and hands-on activities. Admission fees support Susan’s Legacy, which helps people dealing with mental illness. fiberartsfiesta.org



THE GRAPE ESCAPE

Southern New Mexico is America’s original wine country—sorry, Napa—making it the place to sample sips from more than 20 of the state’s family-run vineyards and wineries during the Las Cruces Wine Festival, May 25–27, at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds. Besides wine samples, 55 vendors from all across the Southwest will offer their goods to oenophiles. Taste-test, pick your favorites, and take a bottle or two home. (575) 649-8994; winecountrynm.com



BEER HERE

Maybe “Beer Week-and-a-Half” was too clunky a handle. But Albuquerque Beer Week is bigger than the name implies—11 days filled with tastings, crawls, tours, and even a sudsy golf tournament. Get hopping May 25–June 4 with 12,000 brewheads at 170 events spread across 60 venues. Expect music, beer dinners, special tappings, new releases, and a general sense of mug-half-full euphoria as the Duke City transforms into a beer lover’s paradise. abqbeerweek.com



TREASURE HUNT

Purchase museum-caliber artwork at the annual Native Treasures Indian Arts Festival in Santa Fe, May 26–28, at the convention center. The fund-raiser for the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture welcomes more than 200 artists, and each year it honors a “living treasure,” with Santa Clara Pueblo potter Jody Naranjo now earning the nod. (Pop into the museum, on Museum Hill, for an exhibit of her work.) Admission to the sale is free on Sunday; food trucks add sugar, spice, and java. From May 5 to September 30, the Governor’s Gallery in the Roundhouse displays works by current and former living treasures. (505) 982-7799, ext. 3; nativetreasures.org



The Animas River in Farmington during the city's River FestAbove: The cascading Animas River in Farmington draws paddlers and other fun-seekers to the city's River Fest.

Photography by Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau



RIDING HIGH

Start your summer on the slopes with the Wind Rider Mountain Festival, May 26–28 at Ski Apache, near Ruidoso. National headliners Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Werks, and jam band Spafford (whom you’ll recognize by their legions of cross-country fans known affectionately as Spaff-nerds) join New Mexico acts like Gleewood, Secret Circus, Pherkad, and the Bill Hearne Trio. More than 30 artists play in the evenings on two stages. Days are packed with ziplines, disc golf, and a chance to try your luck at gelande quaffing, a test of skill requiring one teammate to slide a glass of beer across a 10-foot table for the other to catch in midair and drink before it hits the ground. (It was invented by skiers waiting for a mountain to open after a snowstorm.) No snow is expected this time of year, so pitch your tent on the Lower Moonshine Run or park your RV across from the beer garden and the officially sanctioned barbecue competition that fills the air with meat-scented smoke on Saturday. (575) 464-3600; windridermusicfest.com



SILVER LININGS

Silver City welcomes more than 8,000 music and art lovers to town for the 22nd annual Silver City Blues Festival, Memorial Day weekend, May 26–28. Headliners include Marcus James, the Chase Walker Band, and the Ghost Town Blues Band. With a new beer garden serving New Mexico suds provided by Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery, lots of food vendors, plus arts and crafts demos and sales, it’s a block party for the entire Mimbres Valley. “We’re inviting everyone to our backyard,” says Mimbres Regional Arts Council executive director Kevin Lenker. Worth noting: That backyard consistently ranks as one of the nation’s best small towns, reason enough to go. silvercitybluesfestival.org



GO WITH THE FLOW

The folks in Farmington may not have had wiener-dog races in mind 31 years ago when RiverFest began, but what started as a party celebrating terrific trails along the Animas River has swollen its banks. Now it’s an all-out institution, with three days of raft rides, kayaking, music, and more, May 26–29, including the canine competition. “It’s a little bit of everything that Farmington has to offer,” says organizer Jeanene Valdes. The American Indian Expo showcases regional arts and culture, and the weekend promises lots of food, fun for the kids, and a car show. Did we mention it’s free? farmingtonnm.org



GUESTS OF HONOR

Memorial Day weekend in the Enchanted Circle pauses to pay homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. On May 27, the village of Red River holds a procession that’s part of the weekend-long Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. Up to 20,000 riders crowd into town for that and other events, including stunt-riding demos (redriver.org). The most moving event of all comes May 29, when the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire stands sentry over a sweeping convoy on US 64. Besides marchers and motorcyclists, the event enlists dozens of people to hold an enormous U.S. flag visible for miles. The procession begins at 9 a.m. and leads to an 11 a.m. ceremony at the memorial building, a mountain-mimicking masterpiece of architecture with soul-affirming views. (575) 377-6900; vietnamveteransmemorial.org