Renaissance ArtsFaire returns for 44th anniversary
By Zak Hansen
Las Cruces Bulletin
Hear ye, hear ye! The Doña Ana Arts Council’s annual Renaissance ArtsFaire returns for its 44th year, welcoming lords and ladies of all ages to Young Park for two days of post-medieval mirth and merriment from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8.
Since its humble beginnings in 1971 as the Holy Cross CraftFaire, a small-scale arts and crafts fair held in the parking lot of Mesilla’s Holy Cross Retreat, the Renaissance ArtsFaire, renamed in the 1980s with its move to its current home at Young Park, has grown leaps and bounds, drawing artisans from far and wide to the region’s largest juried art show and staying fresh each year while maintaining its deeply rooted traditional feel.
Now the fair draws more than 20,000 visitors each year from all over the country, some even internationally, eager to browse the more than 150 booths from artists the nation over peddling their finest wares – ceramics, glasswork, drawings and prints, gourd art, precious and non-precious jewelry, metal, leather, wood, mixed-media, photography, sculpture, textiles, toys and more. A Crafts Area will offer smaller, more affordable creations from local and national artisans but of the same quality and caliber of the faire’s featured fine artists.
A plethora of arts, crafts and food vendors, offering fare such as Rat on a Stick and Dragon Legs – teriyaki chicken skewers and turkey legs – partner with more than 75 local nonprofit and community organizations, many of which raise much of their annual funding during the festival, reinforcing the Renaissance ArtsFaire’s status and one of Las Cruces’ truest community events.
Entertainment throughout the weekend will include live music, jugglers, magicians and storytellers on the Rio Grande Main Stage, in addition to daily performances by Robert the Ratcatcher – aka Bob Diven – flinging vermin high into the sky from his specially designed Ratapult, and the daily Royal Procession, where kings, queens, jokers and peasants alike wend their way through the festival grounds decked in full period regalia – not to mention thrilling battles from the Society for Creative Anachronism and AmtGard and the return of Magellan the Dragon, back last year and better than ever after his ill-fated encounter with the Black Knight.
This year, with a grant from New Mexico True, the dominion of the Renaissance ArtsFaire has expanded to include several new, unexplored realms. Included in these new territories is a horse-mounted jousting arena in the south-easternmost field, as well as the new Dragon’s Eye Tavern, spanning from the pavilion to the water’s edge, which will offer libations from High Desert Brewing Co., Pecan Grill and Brewery, Bosque Brewing Company and St. Clair Winery for guests 21 and older.
Perhaps the faire’s most exciting new addition, though, is the exotic New World wonders of the Artistas del Camino Real – the artists of El Camino Real del Tierra Ardento or the Spanish “Royal Road of the Interior Land” that linked Mexico City with San Juan Pueblo in northern New Mexico, along which the Spanish conquistadors traveled – who will demonstrate some of the traditional Spanish Colonial and Native American art forms that were developing along the Camino during the time of the Renaissance, roughly 1590 to 1700.
The Artistas include Virginia Romero and Geraldine Flores de Silva, retablo makers; Hector Gallegos and Laura Burgarini, Mata Ortiz potters; Teresa Guerra, weaver; Juan Lopez, silverworker; Yolanda Martinez, Native American drum-maker; Margarito Mondragon, bulto maker; and Travis Terry, who creates Native American flutes. The Artistas can be found near the faire’s main entrance in the Camino Real Panorama.
Returning this year is the free Royal Shuttle, which whisks guests from the southwestern parking lot of Mesilla Valley Mall (near Cineport 10) to the festival and back, with runs approximately every 15 minutes. Shuttles begin at 9 a.m. each day and run until festival close.
Admission is $6 for adults. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Proceeds from the event go to support the continued work of the Doña Ana Arts Council promoting and preserving the arts in the Mesilla Valley through programs and special events, education and community outreach. For more information, visit www.daarts.org or call 523-6403.
Zak Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.