A 1930s tractor pulling a trailer stacked with hay bales chugs past farm stands overflowing with fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes and chiles. Horses clop down main street past musicians strumming folk music. These sights are juicy slices of Americana, and they aren’t scenes of yesteryear. In Corrales, they unfold during the annual Corrales Harvest Festival, held Oct. 15–16.
Farming has deep roots here—from the Tiwa Puebloans who resided in pit houses here around 500 A.D. to the two-dozen Spanish families who settled along the floodplain of lower Corrales in the 1700s. In the 1800s, gourds gave way to grapes when French and Italian immigrants planted vineyards. Later, prohibition stamped out these vineyards, and cattle ranching, orchards, and cornfields moved in.
The Harvest Festival has more contemporary origins, though. When the San Ysidro Church decided to forgo its own seasonal celebrations, Corrales grand-dam Evelyn Losack decided to continue the festivities in her own way in 1985. (Losack passed away earlier this year.) That year, Al Knight, an early volunteer, visited Disneyland and marveled at the way the vacation spot transported visitors from the parking lot to the main gates. He and a few friends, including Roy Soto and Rick Harris, gave the system some local flavor, revving the engines of their tractors and hitching trailers to transport visitors from La Entrada, down Corrales Road, to the Old Church. Since then, the hayride circuit has been the festival’s marquee attraction—and primary not-so-rapid-transit system. Continuing the festival’s tongue-in-cheek nature, the trio even made themselves Corrales Yacht Club jackets to wear while driving. The Kiwanis Club of Corrales Foundation took over organizing the festival a few years ago, giving the grassroots effort a bit more formality. Continue reading