Say ¡Que Viva Santa Fe!

I know I shouldn’t play favorites, but summer’s end is my favorite time of year. The gorgeous weather, a bounty of produce and Santa Fe’s liveliest local festivities offer the ultimate in hometown fun. The Que Viva feeling is alive, and I intend to get in the spirit.

Santa Fe Burns with Devotion to Old Man Gloom

Though I love my old man (okay, he’s not that old), I also love the Old Man, Zozobra, 90-year-old boss of this town. Picture a lovingly-crafted marionette scaled to more than 50 feet tall then set alight in a blaze of glory on a dark summer night.

Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.
Zozobra is Santa Fe’s resident hotshot.

Created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster and gifted in 1964 to the Santa Fe Kiwanis, Zozobra (aka Old Man Gloom) is Santa Fe’s annual cure for disappointment. Stuffed with the community’s glooms—pounds of shredded paper, including report cards, divorce papers and tax returns–he goes up in flames amid fantastic fireworks.

Zozobra’s Aug. 29 burning inaugurates the Decades Project, taking the event creatively back through time with designs mirroring past decades. Tongues are already wagging about his appearance, always one of our city’s most closely guarded secrets. In 2013, the Kiwanis added Zozofest, a family-friendly event (the actual burning can be scary) and this pre-burn fun comes to Sanbusco Market Center Aug. 23, 3-10 p.m. An all-Zozo art exhibition will be on display through Sunday afternoon and a portion of all sales benefits Zozobra events.

With a live entertainment backdrop, Mr. Z’s enormous head will be set up inside for photo ops. Gotta get something off your chest? Zozofest lets you add your gloom in person! And for those who can only be here in spirit, Virtual Zozobra gets your woes inside before The Old Man goes up in smoke! Can’t be there in person? The event will be streamed live here.

Fiestas de Santa Fe is a Centuries-old Party

Santa Fe’s 400-plus-year-old annual Fiestas de Santa Fe takes center stage to mark the 1692 re-conquest of the city following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Presided over by a re-enactment of Conquistador Don Diego and his Cuadrilla (think entourage) and escorted by a Queen (La Reina) and her court, Fiesta is utterly local and totally fun. Preparatory activities happen throughout the year and pre-Fiesta entertainment starts on the Plaza Aug. 23, 3-7 p.m. A Labor Day Weekend Arts and Crafts Fair, taking place Aug. 29 through Sept. 1, sets the tone for the upcoming festivities.

A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.
A taco on four legs takes a stroll at the Fiesta Pet Parade.

The Lensic hosts two Sept. 3 Mariachi Extravaganza performances; nothing like a few gritos to get you in the mood! Weekend food booths (yum!) set up Sept. 5 with an assortment of free entertainment on the Plaza Bandstand throughout. And two parades! Desfile de los Ninos (better known as the Pet Parade) provides “awwws” and paws Sept. 6 at 9 a.m. and Desfile de la Gente (the Hysterical-Historical Parade) amuses on Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. I’m the one yelling ¡Que Viva la Fiesta!— just answer “¡Que Viva!”

Be Green Burger-Wise

Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?
Who better than Old Man Gloom to sample the heat in a green chile cheeseburger?

Food fits anyone’s agenda and personally I’m savoring the return of the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown. Santa Fe takes mixing chile and burgers seriously and everyone’s invited to sample and vote. Contenders are vying to reach the finals and group burger-crawls are being spotted all over town. Voting closes Aug. 15 when six talented finalists pause until the Sept. 12 chow-down cook-off in the Santa Fe Railyard. Burger-lovers be warned: The 500 tickets for this taste test (beer included) will sell out!

If a burger and a beer don’t ring your bell, save your palate for the Sept. 24-28 return of the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Festival. Glad I can attend both (hint: so can you)! Ninety wineries and 75 restaurant partners put their heads together to create a stunning set of pairings, with signature events happening over five days. The blend of seminars, wine dinners, tastings and demonstrations will keep you sipping. And it all culminates with a Grand Tasting on the grounds of the Santa Fe Opera.

Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)
Chef Charles Dale of Bouche Bistro offering an amuse-bouche at the Grand Tasting. (Photo Credit: Kate Russell Photography, courtesy of Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta)

Taste the Best of Summer in Santa Fe

Dying for a taste of Santa Fe? No apologies — that was my intention! I’m Santa Fe’s biggest summer cheerleader, and every one of these events is a winner in my book. Meet Old Man Gloom, shake paws with a pup dressed as Pikachu and grab a zesty bite of green chile — there’s plenty to go around and everyone’s invited to this summer party.


Party Like a Local During ¡Viva! Santa Fe

As autumn paints the Santa Fe landscape in rich golden hues, we locals welcome the green chile harvest and indulge in a colorful celebration of our centuries-old heritage. When Santa Feans hear shouts of “¡Que Viva!” ringing through the streets, it’s clear that Fiesta de Santa Fe, the citywide extravaganza dedicated to Santa Fe’s history and culture, has returned. Combine this 301-year-old party with new customs like a mouth-watering green chile cheeseburger smackdown, and you’ll see that a visit during ¡Viva! Santa Fe is a fall fantasy come to life.

¡Viva! Santa Fe loosely translated means “Long Live Santa Fe” or “Living Santa Fe,” but this year the term encompasses an updated City Different experience, packed with both traditional autumn events and new festivities. Gather your friends and family, make your reservations, and get ready to party under Santa Fe’s magnificent skies for 10 memorably unique days August 30 to September 8.

Flags and coats of arms are mounted on the Plaza during Fiesta to commemorate the peaceful reoccupation of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas.

History and Culture Come Alive at Fiesta de Santa Fe

As the country’s oldest continuous community celebration, Fiesta de Santa Fe has commemorated the peaceful 1692 reoccupation of the city by Don Diego de Vargas, after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, since 1712.

The official opening of Fiesta takes place Friday, September 6, at 6 a.m., with the Pregón de la Fiesta, when the faithful gather at Rosario Chapel to hear the Mayor of Santa Fe issue a formal proclamation declaring the start of these annual festivities. Community leaders welcome the public on the Plaza at noon, then at 2 p.m. you can witness a re-enactment of the triumphant 1692 entry of the Conquistadors.

Don Diego and his Cuadrilla triumphantly ride into town every year during Fiesta.

The Desfile de Los Ninos, the annual Pet Parade, takes place Saturday, September 7, at 9 a.m. This is a truly uniquely Santa Fe event, where you can coo over ever-so-patient family pets dressed as conquistadors or admire a happy family of Smurfs.

Pets and Smurfs at the pet parade have a happy case of the Blues.

Sunday, September 8, brings the Desfile de la Gente, colloquially referred to as the Historical/Hysterical Parade. This lively, local, anything-goes conglomeration of floats mixes local high school bands, mariachis, and sports teams with queens and politicians of every stripe, all of whom eventually end up on the Plaza.

All you need is LOVE to enjoy the Hysterical/Historical Fiesta Parade.

The official closing of Fiesta takes place at 5:15 p.m. on the Plaza and is followed by 7 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral and a solemn candle-lit procession through the historic downtown, ending at the Cross of the Martyrs, where small vigil bonfires known as luminarias flicker in the dark.

Given that Fiesta actually takes all year for the Fiesta Council to plan, a celebration this large means a lot is happening, so we encourage advance scheduling to make your Fiesta experience complete.

Let Zozobra Take the Heat Off Your Worries

What is that crazy name you’ve been hearing? Pre-dating Nevada’s Burning Man by decades, Zozobra, familiarly known as Old Man Gloom, is Santa Fe’s prescription for recovering from the year’s disappointments. Zozobra was created in 1924 by artist Will Shuster and is now lovingly re-created each year by the Kiwanis Club.

This 50-foot-tall puppet is stuffed with bits of paper bearing all manner of gloomy thoughts and goes up in smoke at an annual burning in Fort Marcy Park. Though Fiesta’s official start date is Friday, September 6, the September 5 conflagration on Thursday night tells the locals it’s on! Entertainment on the field begins at 3 p.m., but the burning and subsequent fireworks display take place well after dark. Note that this is NOT for agoraphobics, the faint of heart, or the youngest children.

Check out this vintage photo of Old Man Gloom and his creator, Will Shuster, in 1954.

Santa Feans like me can’t get enough of Zozobra, and there’s a new event honoring our sacrificial lamb Friday, August 30, from 3 to 10 p.m. when ZozoFest pulls into the Santa Fe Railyard. The annual Zozobra poster will be unveiled and signed by the artist, and an exhibit of all things Zozo opens to the public. You can stuff your worries right into Zozobra and gaze in awe at his massive head. I feel better already! This family-friendly Friday has live entertainment under the water tower and a screening of “Rise of the Guardians” at the performance green, with a fun fair on Saturday, August 31, 11a.m. – 6 p.m.

And though you might think Old Man Gloom would be feeling old and out of touch at 89, Zozobra has gone digital this year! Submit your worries online, until September 5, and watch them burn on the Burning of the Virtual Zozobra at the ¡Viva! Santa website.

Santa Fe’s modern-day Zozobra evokes the original. Photo Credit: Albuquerque Journal

Cheeseburger Smackdown Arrives at the Green Chile Harvest Festival

Roasting and eating the green chile that infuses our world-renowned cuisine — and delights the palates of foodies everywhere — is always on our autumn calendar. But this year, Santa Fe welcomes the First Annual Green Chile Harvest Festival September 7, with the finale of Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown as its centerpiece. The green chile harvest is eagerly anticipated, so an official celebration at the renowned Santa Fe Farmers Market is an idea whose time has come. Although it’s a maiden voyage for this event, it’s sure to sail back next year once we get a taste of the excitement.

Plan to be a People’s Taster at the Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown.

This tasty challenge kicked off in July when Santa Fe chefs were invited to submit their best green chile cheeseburger for online voting by locals and visitors, and boy, was the competition fierce! Now the top six burgers, along with a Lucky 7 additional burger to be announced later this month, will tantalize at the Smackdown. A panel of judges will crown the king of cheeseburgers the Reigning Chomp. If you want to be a judge for the People’s Taste Burger, you’ll be able to buy tickets at the event, so stay tuned to Facebook for news and make sure your taste buds are tuned to green chile.

Live It Up at ¡Viva! Santa Fe

Autumn is a time for creating the memories that carry us through the long winter ahead. We locals look forward to revisiting the treasures of our historic and cultural traditions, and we welcome you to join us on this colorful journey of celebration. Experience the magic of Santa Fe this fall and take part of one of the liveliest long-standing parties around. ¡Viva! Santa Fe – ¡Que Viva!

PARTY ON IN PEACE: Celebrating the 300th Anniversary of Fiesta de Santa Fe.

If there’s one tradition that captures the vibrant spirit of Santa Fe, it’s our city’s annual celebration, La Fiesta de Santa Fe–a colorful, historic feast unlike anything you’ve experienced. With parades, dancing, concerts, and a 30-foot effigyof gloom built every year just to be burned to the ground, La Fiesta de Santa Fe is truly a feast for all the senses.

As thousands of fiesta-goers who return year-after-year will attest, celebrating Santa Fe style means more than just revelry. Legendary food, music and the pageantry of 300 year traditions provide the perfect celebration.  Crowds discover and rediscover a bounty of authentic local cuisine and regional wines at gourmet restaurants and traditional food booths lining the Plaza. Streets spill over with music, parades and cries of “Viva la Fiesta,” with festivities pausing only for a majestic, time-honored Catholic ceremony.

Ask any local, and you’ll discover that Fiesta de Santa Fe has a special place in the hearts of Santa Feans. Beyond its fun and pageantry, it offers a unique blend of ancient culture, modern art, and longstanding community traditions.  ¡Viva La Fiesta!

A Celebration of Peace

With a name that means “holy faith” in Spanish, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that there’s a lot of Spanish colonial heritage in Santa Fe. In fact, Santa Fe was considered the capital city even when New Mexico was still the “Kingdom of New Mexico” under the rule of the King of Spain. La Fiesta de Santa Fe is a celebration created by the conquistadors who helped establish colonies here.

It might be hard to get excited about celebrating colonialism in the Twenty First Century, but Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived since 1912 because it was never a celebration of Spanish conquest. La Fiesta de Santa Fe has survived so long because it celebrates cultures coming together in peace. After years of conflict between colonists and native tribes, Don Diego de Vargas successfully re-occupied Santa Fe without conflict or bloodshed. It was such a profound step toward peaceful coexistence that De Vargas attributed it to divine intervention and insisted that a feast be held in reverence of the Virgin Mary.

Conflicts did not completely disappear, but the tradition of celebrating a peaceful marriage of differing cultures remained, an attitude that characterizes Santa Fe even today. Visitors can celebrate culture and history by retracing the actual steps of the city’s ancestors through the center of town, or by joining a candlelight procession on the last day of the Fiesta.

A Celebration of Art

In 1924, before Burning Man, and comparatively new to the rest of Fiesta celebrations, the burning of Zozobra began as a creation by artist William Shuster. A member of a group known around town as Los Cincos Pintores (the five painters), Shuster was among the first Anglo artists to discover Santa Fe’s unspoiled beauty and natural splendor. By then, La Fiesta de Santa Fe was over two hundred years old and had seen better days.

Not content to let the tradition die, Will Shuster and several of his friends hatched a plot to stage a fiesta of their own in an empty lot behind City Hall. Shuster adapted a tradition with roots in Roman Catholicism as well as the cultural ceremonies of the Yaqui Indians to create a huge marionette personification of gloom that would be burned into cinders.

This year Fiesta de Santa Fe celebrates its 300th anniversary, proving that partying in peace can be a lasting tradition. So join Santa Fe in watching your troubles and gloom go up in smoke. “Viva La Fiesta”!

Fiesta De Santa Fe Events: September 5-9, 2012

September 5

Concierto de Mariachi: 10am – 12pm & 2pm – 4pm at the Lensic Performing Art Center
Historical Fiesta Lecture:  6pm – 7:30 September 5 at the New Mexico History Museum

September 6

Burning of Zozobra: 3pm – 11pm  at Fort Marcy Park

September 7

Pregon de la Fiesta: 6am – 7am at Rosario Chapel
Fiesta Fine Art and Craft Market: 9am – 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Food Booths: 9am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Bandstand on the Plaza: 10am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Official Opening of the Fiesta: 12pm – 12:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas: 2pm – 3pm at the Santa Fe Plaza

September 8

Desfile de Los Ninos (The Pet Parade): 9am – 10:45am Downtown Santa Fe
Bandstand on the Plaza: 10:45am – 10pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
La Merienda (The Fashion Show): 3pm – 5pm at the James A. Little Theater
Gran Baile: 7:30pm at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center

 September 9

Solemn Procession: 9:30am – 10am at the Palace of the Governors
Pontifical Mass: 10am – 11:15am at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
Bandstand on the Plaza: 11am- 5pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Desfile de la Gente Historical Parade: 12:30pm – 3 pm Downtown Santa Fe
Closing Ceremonies: 5:15pm – 5:30pm at the Santa Fe Plaza
Mass of Thanksgiving and Candlelight Procession: 7pm – 9pm at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Find more ways and reasons to celebrate in Santa Fe here!