January 6, 1912. That’s the date Congress finally decided we were worthy of becoming part of the union, after years of wrangling. For decades prior to statehood, it had been unclear that New Mexican citizens as a whole were particularly interested in changing their status from territory to state. And there was the added prejudice existing in Washington – did they really want this land full of Hispanics and Native Americans to become part of their union?
100 years later, we’re set to begin our yearlong celebration of statehood next month in Las Cruces at the New Mexico Centennial SalsaFest, set for Sunday, August 28, in front of the Rio Grande Theatre on Main Street between Griggs and Las Cruces Avenues. This will be the kick-off event for New Mexico’s 16-month, statehood commemoration. The Centennial Celebration website states: “We’ll be off to a spicy start with activities including a salsa recipe competition, salsa tasting, salsa music, salsa dancing, and food booths.”
The next two events are the Hatch Chile Festival (Labor Day Weekend) and Fort Bayard Days the weekend of September 17. From the looks of it, we’re in for at least an event each month, and you can keep up with what’s happening at the New Mexico Centennial Blog, or by checking back here. I plan to attend as many of the events as possible – partly because I’m so proud to be a New Mexican, but mostly because they sound like fun, even if you’re not a history freak like me.
The big event will be the Grand Centennial Ball on January 6, 2012 in the Santa Fe Convention Center. Tickets are $250, but if life treats me right, or if I can find a buyer for a kidney, I plan to be there. Care to join me?
It all sounds like great fun. Let’s celebrate who we are, starting next month in Las Cruces!