Taos just completed its annual salute to our nation's Independence Day and our traditional Fiestas de Taos. For years the community has come together to celebrate a common thread as Americans and our …
Taos just completed its annual salute to our nation's Independence Day and our traditional Fiestas de Taos. For years the community has come together to celebrate a common thread as Americans and our meaningful heritage as Taoseños. We celebrated in gratitude for the freedoms and privileges provided to us by our country with family and friends for our closely held traditions. Besides being fun, well-managed festivals and events offer a host of economic and social benefits to communities.
Community festivals are important and maybe even necessary for the good health of communities. Festivals provide free marketing and advertising for local businesses as visitors talk about their fun experiences when they go back home. If visitors post comments and photos about their experiences on Facebook or other social media, so much the better. The economic benefits of successful festivals ripple throughout a local economy-affecting businesses related to tourism and nontourism alike.
Planning and conducting festivals involves many members of the community, which yields a number of social benefits. "The best thing about being involved with festivals and events is the opportunity to help build a community, foster a sense of pride within a community and engage a community," says Chris Romano, a business consultant with Thrivent Financial Services. "Honestly, in my professional career, I've never found something outside a community festival that can do that to the same degree."
Another social benefit of festival sponsorship is stronger relationships within a community. Most of the relationship-building occurs in the festival-planning phase. This is where the bonds among public and private organizations, government and neighborhood groups are forged and where connections among elected officials, staff, volunteers and interested residents are made.
Assuming everything else goes well, the payoff to this relationship-building is a successful event. But the benefits last well beyond the event, as people bring their connections and collective knowledge and skills to improve the community.
Connections are the "glue" that hold communities together; without them, a community stagnates and the quality of life declines. Experts call this glue social capital - so viewed through this lens, festival or event sponsorship increases the social capital that makes for healthy communities.
Just as our economy grows, declines and breathes and moves, so do festivals. As familiar faces retire and move on, new blood comes in to breathe a new and different form of vitality - community events evolve and take on a different look.
Our weekly summer evenings at Taos Plaza Live have evolved to become not only a music concert but a time to connect with other important aspects of our community. On June 27, Taos Pueblo graced the audience with traditional pueblo songs, drummers and their Friendship Dance that includes all in joined hands and dance. On July 11, the Taos Fiestas Council introduced the royal court and invited the audience to Fiestas de Taos.
We are looking forward to special nights at Taos Plaza Live to close out the summer. Tonight (Aug. 1) we are celebrating Back-to-School Night with the Taos News, University of New Mexico-Taos, educators and other sponsors. Later in August, we will have an Enchanted Circle Night for our neighbors with representations from towns and chambers around the area and we will have an Art and Museum night to share our art community.
These opportunities to cross-pollinate all aspects of our community engender understanding and respect for all. Some folks may view the whole idea of small-town events as old-fashioned. Old-fashioned like a family reunion, old-fashioned like a family discussion on summer's evening on the porch swing, old-fashioned like an ice cream social. All those kinds of things we like to pride ourselves as holding dear. Let us all be neighborly and old-fashioned enough to enjoy them.
Next year, 2020, is the 20th anniversary of Taos Plaza Live. We are working now to continue these shared community nights and invite you all to the plaza each Thursday in the summer to enjoy the festivities.
Contact the TCCC at taoschamber.com, (575) 751-8800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Taos County Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting local businesses.
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