If you are looking for something to do on Labor Day weekend then look no further than Las Cruces, New Mexico, and its surrounding area. Several attractions such as the Hatch Valley Chile Festival, Franciscan Fine Arts Festival, and New Mexico Wine Harvest Festival offer enough hospitality, entertainment, and festivities to keep you busy all three days.
If you’re itching for some homegrown New Mexico Chile, you will find it in Hatch, New Mexico, located just north of Las Cruces. Each year, this small town hosts the annual Hatch Valley Chile Festival, which in previous years has attracted the attention of the Food Network, BBC and other media. Hatch is appropriately named the “Chile Capital of the World” and offers a variety of green chile, such as Barker, Sandia, Big Jim, and N.M.-20. The chile can range from extra, extra hot to very mild, and many folks feel it is the tastiest chile pepper around. Besides chile the festival is filled with fun activities for the whole family. It begins on Saturday morning with a parade and continues into the evening with a dance. During the day attendees can visit the New Mexico Mercado and enjoy the educational and art exhibits, farmers market, vendor and food booths. Families can enjoy the traditional carnival rides or check out the newly added water theme rides and mechanical rodeo bull. Various entertainment groups will perform throughout the day, including fiddlers and mariachi ensembles. A mariachi competition and chile/salsa cook-off is held on Saturday and Sunday. Chile lovers can compete in Saturday’s hot chile eating contest, and may want to visit the “beer garden” afterwards for a cold one. There will be a horseshoe tournament and mud volleyball tournament as well. The festival is located at the Hatch Municipal Airport, one mile west of the town on Highway 26. Admission is only $10 per car load, so don’t miss out on the fun and excitement. Visit hatchchilefest.com for more information.
With two days of your Labor Day weekend remaining, search for some unique art décor for your home at the Franciscan Fine Art Festival. The festival resides at the Holy Cross Retreat, just two miles south of University Avenue and Highway 10 in Las Cruces. It features more than 70 artist exhibiting paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, woodwork, jewelry, and more. Attendees can participate in the silent auction or art raffle, and enjoy live music, beverages at the beer and wine garden or a scrumptious enchilada meal inside the cool dining hall. Admission is free and there is plenty of parking. Visit franciscanfestival.org for more information.
Set your GPS to the Southern New Mexico State Fair Grounds and it will direct you to the Harvest Wine Festival. Wine connoisseurs will enjoy the award-winning vintages of several of New Mexico’s finest wineries. Some of the past participants include Tierra Encantada, Luna Rossa, Heart of the Desert, Dos Viejos, Rio Grande, Ponderosa Valley, Amaro Winery, Blue Teal, Wines of the San Juan, St. Clair, San Felipe, Specialties, DH Vip, DH Lescombes and Tularosa Vineyards. People can visit and shop approximately 50 arts, crafts and, agricultural product booths on site, or treat their hungry appetites to one of several food booths. The festival sponsors a grape stomping contest every hour for people who want to indulge in some old fashion, grape fermentation. Live entertainment from various musical groups will filter throughout the fairgrounds during the 3-day event. The cost to participate is $15 in advance, $20 at the gate, $3 discount for active military (persons under 21 get in free with a parent or legal guardian), which will include a souvenir wine glass and access to wine samples from each of the participating wineries. The tickets are available online at wineharvestfestival.com
Additional information for these events and others can be found at explorelascruces.com.