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July 2024

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Photo by Wendy Vigil La Reina Esperanza Quintana and her escort Juan Diego Vigil

The Significance of “La Reina” de la Fiesta

Culture, tradition, and confidence. These words embody what it means to be a Fiesta Reina, or Queen. The newly crowned Reina, Esperanza Quintana, revealed the importance of these values and traits as she delivered her speech in front of a panel of judges and small audience during the Fiesta Reina pageant, held at the beautifully decorated council chambers on Wednesday, June 12, just a few days before the Questa Fiestas. The full court included Princesa runner-up Destiny Vigil, as well as the Junior Princesas, Aria Duran and Sofia Vigil.

The pageant coordinator, Maria Gonzales, had rallied and encouraged participation for the pageant this year. “I think our Reina and Princesa were able to come out of their shell a little more. I know they were nervous, but they were able to overcome their nervousness and fear and pushed through.”

Last year’s queen, Ashlynn Rael, joined the pageant on Wednesday and gave her words of advice to the young ladies running for Queen, offering a few words on what it meant to her to be fiesta Queen this past year. “I know you’re nervous and that’s okay,” she reassures the girls. Her confidence carried through the room and gave the young women there that last boost of courage to get up and address the group and panel of judges.

This tradition, rooted in Spanish colonial history, has taken place in New Mexico for nearly 100 years. Fiesta Queens have been represented by young unmarried Catholic women and are looked upon as young civic leaders who find tradition and culture very important personally and to the community. Gonzales mentions that in the future she would like for the Princesas to have a community role throughout the year and give the young ladies an opportunity to be leaders.

In her speech, Quintana talked about traditions that her family still participates in year after year, such as their Lenten traditions, visits to the Cerro Morada, and cooking delicious New Mexican foods. “I ran because I really wanted to inspire other young girls to ensure they know they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.” One question asked by a panel judge was: how can Questa be a better place for everyone? Quintana responded by saying, “people need to care for each other more and look out for each other.”

Her runner-up, Destiny Vigil, a recent graduate of Questa High School, also commented on how Questa has shaped her and how her family has always supported her in the past. Keeping traditions alive and representing her culture were also important themes for Vigil. “I am blessed to be able to have this opportunity—being part of the fiestas is an honor.” The junior Princesas, Aria Duran and Sofia Vigil, stood tall and proud in their traditional fiesta regalia while supporting Quintana and Vigil.

“I want to encourage those young ladies who maybe aren’t always involved with the community to participate because they need to realize that they have the knowledge and skills to serve in a leadership capacity,” said Gonzales. Esperanza Quintana understands what it means to have a good role model and is excited to volunteer and help out next year. She leaves the community with these last words and somewhat of a challenge, “I am ready to serve the community and I look forward to hearing from people on how I can give my time to improve our community.”

Congratulations to these ladies who are representing our community and culture


  • Lora Arcienega

    Experience working with the USDA Forest Service and extensive knowledge of the northern region, while maintaining and fostering strong community relationships remain a big priority.

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