August—the widest open time of the year, as abbreviating daylight hours of hot sun and deliciously cooled monsoon afternoons flit past with the quick grace of New Mexico swallowtails. The last bloom of the roses, the most glorious, shows off its vibrant colors in the garden. Our favorite scent—roasting chile—pervades farmers’ markets and roadside stands, reminding us it’s once again time to provision for the next season coming our way. Mornings are cooler now.
But before the summer transforms into fall, let’s make the most of our good fortune of living right here, right now.
You need some quality stargazing in your summer. Capulin Volcano National Monument in Folsom, named a Gold Tier Dark Sky venue, is holding Astronomy Nights Aug. 3 and Aug. 24. Rangers bring out the high-powered telescopes and lend their knowledge of the heavens. Be sure to bring snacks, and you’ll need warm clothes and a blanket. These are seriously some of the darkest skies in the lower 48, and the stars are beyond imagining. 575.278.2201.
And how about dancing under the stars to the Rifters one summer night? The Cleveland Roller Mill holds its annual benefit dance Aug. 10, 4-10 p.m., at mile-marker 31.5, NM 518, in Cleveland. This is a popular camping-out event, and the potluck is superb. Clevelandrollermillmuseum.org.
Colfax County Fair! Put on your boots and prepare to get them dusty. The Colfax County Fair & Rodeo, with BBQ, cakewalk, adorable animals and quilts, will take you back to the roots of what fair-time is all about. It’s just the right size and everyone is happy to see you there. Aug. 5-11, Springer Fairgrounds, 575.445.8017.
Celebrating Artistic Director Ida Kavafian’s 35th season, Music from Angel Fire presents an exhilarating series of concerts throughout Northern New Mexico from Aug 16-Sept. 1, plus numerous art and dining special events. Somehow, Music from Angel Fire is always in tune with the summer evening mood, creating uplifting evenings to savor. Musicfromangelfire.org.
People ask me what is my favorite New Mexico event. While it’s not possible to answer that question, certainly high on my list—the event that really makes me come alive—is the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, a gathering of tribes from throughout the hemisphere, with pow wow, rodeo, exhibitions and so much more. Don’t pass up the chance for grilled mutton and green chile on fry bread. This year is the event’s 98th, taking place downtown Gallup and Red Rock Park, Aug. 2-11. If time is short, the one can’t-miss event is the parade, Aug. 10 at 10 a.m., downtown. Gallupceremonial.com.
Hooray! The Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair has re-opened! First opened in 1924 by jack-of-all-trades Clem “Pop” Shaffer, this incarnation of the landmark has a café and gallery up and running, with hotel rooms in the offing. Two of New Mexico’s most fantastic folk-art displays are on the premises—the Art Deco dining room ceiling, painted by Pop in the same primary colors he used to paint cars he repaired, and the fence beside the hotel inlaid with Pop’s fantastic imaginary creatures. 505.847.2888 (check hours on Facebook before you go timing seems a bit fluid at this point).
And you may want to check out the delightful Mountainair Sunflower Festival, with music, food, arts, crafts and treasures, held Aug. 24, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Manzanomountainartcouncil.org/sunflowerfestival.html.
The Las Cruces Harvest Wine Festival, Aug. 31- Sept. 2 held at Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 12125 Robert Larson Blvd., is one of the very best places to taste vintages from wineries around the state. Music, food trucks and big fun. Looks like some good discounts on early bird tickets. Nmwine.com.
Although I’ve been to Lincoln, this is the year I finally discovered this mile-long town of beautifully preserved history. The Wortley Hotel 1881, once owned by Pat Garrett, has all the romance of the Old West, plus great hospitality, coffee on the front porch and a stupendous breakfast, and the brewery across the street, Bonito Valley Brewing Company, is the place to stay up until the wee hours listening to tales of Billy the Kid. Old Lincoln Days, held this year Aug. 2-4, presents The Last Escape of Billy the Kid from the Lincoln County Courthouse. If Billy returned, he would absolutely recognize the place. Nothing has changed. 505.681.4014.