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February 2024

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Photo by Megan Bowers, The Taos News The 2007 Questa Fiesta Princessa Amanda Valencia and La Reina Mikayla Ortega on their royal ride through the village.

Fond memories spur revival of Fiestas de San Antonio de Rio Colorado

If you have roots in Questa, you assuredly have memories of Fiesta days every June at the Molycorp Fields. People would gather to visit booths, eat fire department burgers, listen to Cuarenta y Cinco and Mezcal, while kids ran excitedly begging their parents for more money so they could pay for more carnival rides.

The last Fiesta celebration took place in 2008. With the collapse of the west wall of the St. Anthony’s Church, many community members spent years dedicating their efforts to restoring the church and all that it encompassed. While the church is fully restored, the community efforts and involvement have been difficult to bring Fiestas fully back to life.

“When we moved back to Questa, it was with the intent of putting our own roots down in the same community where we were raised,” says Questa Village Councilwoman and Fiesta organizer Katrina Gonzales. “We had a strong desire to raise our kids with the same traditions and values we had. ‘The Fiestas’ were some of my fondest childhood memories,”

It was Gonzales’ idea that spurred coordination with Maria Gonzalez and other community members who have been hard at work ensuring the return of the Fiesta celebration this June.

Councilwoman Gonzales notes how the pandemic, coupled with the economy and overall difficulties of life, has made a noticeable impact on the morale of Questeños. “When you take away a norteños’ ability to coexist with their community, you take away the very heart of our culture,” she says.

For this reason, connecting with other like-minded community members has proven beneficial to get the inaugural return of the Fiestas on track for June 2023. The group has met on a regular basis, brainstorming and making action items and goals to ensure the event can be planned in a quick, yet succinct, manner.

“You have to start somewhere, this year it will be smaller because we’re only having it for one day. But in the future, we look forward to bringing it back to the traditional multi-day celebration,” Maria Gonzalez says. While the event will be smaller than in its original glory days, organizers say it will still bring the community together to listen to music, eat food from vendors, and connect with the community like one big happy family.

In addition to working with community partners, the Fiesta Council has partnered with Granite Construction, a subsidiary of Chevron Mine, to sponsor this year’s event. Maria Gonzalez notes that people can expect to see performances by local dancers, listen to local groups play, and hopefully enjoy some fire department burgers so many locals reminisce about. Additionally, Village Councilwoman has pushed for the Fiesta Council to crown a Reina de las Fiestas, along with a court of Princesas for the first time since 2008. “We’re planning to have a marcha de las reinas where the current Reina along with former Reinas can dance together as we commemorate our inaugural revival of the Fiesta event,” says Maria Gonzalez.

“Growing up, seeing dancing, hearing music, gathering with our local community, it was always such a great time for our community to connect and be one happy family. It was part of who we were growing up, and we want to ensure that continues. We owe it to our younger generations to bring this event back,” Maria Gonzalez says. Sharing similar sentiments, Councilwoman Gonzales says, “I want Questeños and Norteños to know that this is for them. The fiestas are where we regain our sense of COMMUNITY, UNITY, AND CULTURE! That’s the kind of place we want our kids to grow up in.”

The Fiestas will be held on Saturday, June 17 from noon-midnight at Molycorp Fields. Admission is free. Members of the public are encouraged to bring cash in small bills for the vendor booths and the Questa VFW will be hosting a horseshoe tournament.