Style and traditions merge in the Taos Royal Pageant

Originally published in The Taos News

Attendees to the 2011 Taos Royal Pageant had a glimpse of the youngest, happiest, brightest faces in town. The event took place at Bataan Hall on Saturday, June 18th from 5: 30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and was emceed by Don Francisco Trujillo II.

‘The Taos Fiesta Council takes great pride in hosting events like Las Fiestas de Taos which, in one form or another, have been celebrated for over 400 years,” said Don Francisco.

“The theme of the Fiestas this year is ayer, hoy y mañana (yesterday, today and tomorrow),” said Evangeline (Vangie) Romero, co-chair of the Pageant, who acted as a motherly presence to the contestants before and during the event. Her daughter, Sonya Romero, the 2001 Fiesta Queen, was the Pageant’s coordinator and the young women’s coach.

The 2010 Taos Royal Courtwas there too. The 2010 queen, Desiree Briana Apodaca, thanked the town of Taosfor believing in them to represent “la gente and nuestra comunidad to the fullest” and her princesas for accompanying her throughout the year.

Antonio Gabriel Jacquez was the Pageant auditor. The judges were Monica Padilla Ortega, Steve Fuhlendorf and Antonia Feliz Santistevan.

Entertainment was provided by Lucita Trujillo and Los niños bailadores, who performed El baile de la escoba and other traditional dances, and by Mariachi Calor, directed by Darren Cordova, who wowed the audience with hits like El rey and La Malagradecida.

On the stage, decorated with colorful sarapes and traditional sombreros, the four contestants (Jenni Alyssa Medina, Bianca Claire Silva, Andrea Bibiana Mondragon and Anna Eloisa Vasquez) had the first chance to shine with their introduction speeches. They talked about the importance of the Fiestas, the patron saints ofTaos—Santa Ana and Santiago de los Caballeros—, their personal recollections of previous Fiestas, and the importance of them to preserve the town’s history and traditions.

During the talent show, the contestants showcased their unique skills. Medinasang Spanish songs accompanied by two young musicians that played the guitarrón and the vihuela. Her rendition of Las Mañanitas brought tears to the eyes of an old lady seated next to me. Mondragon demonstrated her ability as a caregiver by taking the blood pressure of a volunteer and changing a bandage. Silva danced a solo cumbia son, “Bailar esta cumbia,” and Vasquez danced a slow version of a mazurka.

The contestants also performed a group number “to help establish the camaraderie that will help them support each other during the year of their reinado,” Don Francisco said. They danced Jesusita en Chihuahua (an old Mexican folk song), La danza del pañuelo, in which the dancers carried beautiful red kerchiefs, and La raspa, an originalTaos song. In the last dance, they were joined by girls from Los niños bailadores.

Later, the contestant answered impromptu questions onstage. In the end, it was a difficult decision for the judges because the four young women were smart, poised and very articulate.

After a nail-biting wait, the winner, Anna Eloisa Vasquez, was announced. Emotions ran high and the new Reina, smiling and tearful at the same time, posed for pictures with the royal court.

“I can’t wait to be in the Fiestas and to representTaos,” Vasquez said.

The Fiesta Mass and Crowning of the Queen will take place on Friday, July 22nd, in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, at 5:30 p.m.

¡Que vivan las fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana!

Anna Eloisa Vasquez, la reina de las fiestas de Taos 2o11.