Music is the heart of Fiestas

Community celebration includes memorable and lively entertainment

By Tamra Testerman
Posted 7/17/19

The Fiestas de Taos was plunged into sadness at learning of the death of Ernestine Romero. The popular Tejano-style entertainer was to have headlined the Gran Baile of the Fiestas …

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Music is the heart of Fiestas

Community celebration includes memorable and lively entertainment


The Fiestas de Taos was plunged into sadness at learning of the death of Ernestine Romero. The popular Tejano-style entertainer was to have headlined the Gran Baile of the Fiestas Saturday (July 20) on Taos Plaza. She was the victim of a murder-suicide in Santa Fe Thursday (July 11). See the story in the main section of today's edition of the Taos News for more.

Fiesta Council President Don Francisco Trujillo said the event will now include a tribute to the singer. New Mexico recording artist and award-winning band Red Wine will perform along with special guest appearances by former Taos mayor and popular musician Darren Córdova, with his daughter Dynette Marie and Roberto Griego.

The Taos Fiestas offer a cultural array of traditional music, dance and celebration and an opportunity to commune with some top performers in the area. What you may not realize is that this year's lineup takes the stage without compensation. They are volunteers who pay their own way, for the chance to perform in Taos.

Trujillo is the mover and shaker behind the scenes. He's been a force of nature juggling the intricacies of putting on one of the largest celebrations in Northern New Mexico and he started as a teenager in 1982, when asked to escort a member of the Royal Court, Princesa Annette Torres, as her caballero. He said he "just never left. I've been with the Taos Fiesta Council for 37 years. I am the longest-serving member of the council followed by Elma Vigil, who joined in 1990, and Manuel Medina and Theresa Trujillo, who both joined in 1992 when their daughter Leandra Medina was crowned fiestas queen."

The entertainment lineup this year, according to Trujillo, includes the talents of Gustavo Rodríguez from Austin, Texas, who travels here to perform at his own expense. Emi Arte Flamenco is now in their third year in a row performing traditional flamenco from Spain for the fiestas.

Dynette Marie, who performed with her father, Córdova, in prior years, makes her debut in Taos this summer. Recording artist Griego will also debut in first performance for the Fiestas de Taos. And for the first time in fiestas history, Al Hurricane Jr. will take the stage. He and his father had performed over the years during Fiestas weekend, but since his dad's passing, he was "never on the plaza as part of the entertainment lineup, only at private venues."

Singer James Valerio will be featured this year with Mariachi Sonidos del Monte backing him up. And Grammy award-winning artist Michael Martin Murphey will make his first appearance at the Fiestas de Taos this summer as well.

Trujillo said the planning for the Fiestas starts within a month after they end. "We take a month to wind down and prepare for our participation at the New Mexico State Fair and Fiestas de Santa Fe that take place at the beginning of September each year."

In September and October, he said they take part in smaller local events such as the Taos County Fair and the Cultural Fair at the Martínez Hacienda. "By November our entertainment lineup for the following July Fiestas de Taos is already full and we start a waitlist for anyone who contacts us after."

He said he can get a full lineup every year by simply by asking.

"How do I do it? I just ask - the worst they can say is no thank you, and there are some that say no," Trujillo said. "I get new calls every year, from popular, well-recognized artists, who ask to perform, knowing that it is on a volunteer basis."

He continued to say, "We are the only fiesta that I know of in which performers volunteer their time and talent to the community. They are not performing for the Fiesta Council, rather they use the Taos Fiestas as a venue for additional exposure and perform as appreciation toward the very people who support them by buying their CDs, pay cover charges during other times of the year to listen and dance to their music, listen to their music on the various radio and media outlets. etc."

The history of the Fiestas began in the early 20th century, according to Trujillo.

"Research reveals that the first Conquistadores to arrive in the area in the Catholic tradition adopted the patron saint of Spain, Santiago de Compostela, Saint James the Greater from Galicia, Spain, as the patron of Taos. His feast day is July 25 as celebrated by Roman Catholics. He is recognized as the patron saint of horsemen, fisherman and pilgrims. Santa Ana's, St. Anne, Jesus' grandmother, was adopted as a patron saint of the area. Her feast day is celebrated July 26, the day following Santiago's by Roman Catholics. It was for centuries a Roman Catholic celebration that turned into a community-wide celebration somewhere around the turn of the century. The first documented Fiesta Queen was in 1927, according to archives obtained from the Taos News."

Trujillo said the Fiestas are an opportunity to fellowship and visit with one another, listen to the many talented performers, taste the variety of delicious foods available only during Fiestas, and attend the Gran Baile on Saturday from 8-11 p.m. It is considered a family event and like all the celebrations is open to the public free.

He added, "Patience is a virtue when dealing with slow-moving traffic and congestion inevitable on the main highway, and some popular back road relief routes. Remember that the Children's Parade on Saturday morning (July 20), will take place from 10-10:45 a.m. and Camino de La Placita and Don Fernando will be closed during that time frame and the main highway will be closed off for the Historical Parade on Sunday (July 21) from noon to 2 p.m. A section of Camino de la Placita will be congested because this is where the parade ends, and parade participants use this venue to return to town."

Enjoy the festivities and take a moment to honor those who have gone before.

For more information, visit Also, see the special section starting on Page 21.


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