Voices from the Fiestas

Fiesta de Taos 2013 Royal Pageant

Photo: Tina Larkin. Reina and princesas

The theme for the 2013 Taos Fiestas is “Welcome! Our community is your home.”

This warm welcome starts at home, en casa, and extends to visitors and locals alike. Three members of the Taos community, and longtime participants and organizers of the event, talk about their experiences with previous Fiestas and what they expect from future ones.

Theresa Trujillo: keeping the Fiestas clean and friendly

Theresa Trujillo and her family have been involved with the Taos Fiestas since 1992. “Our daughter, Leandra Medina-Gordon, was the Fiesta queen that year,” she said. “We built a huge float with help from all the family. The Fiesta float was designed with a big tractor trailer and pulled by a semi truck. It was very exciting!”

Trujillo has been helping with the planning and organization of the Fiestas steadily after that. Her husband, Manuel Medina, also helps set up and tear down the vendors’ booths. “Our daughter and her husband Matt along with our grandkids Durin and Bree also come down to help,” said Trujillo. “We want to keep this tradition and also keep the Fiestas alive as they have always been—a safe, clean and family-oriented celebration.”

Her sisters, along with their families, come down from out of town during the Fiestas, to visit and celebrate with family and friends.

“The Fiestas are deeply rooted in people’s memories,” Trujillo said. “I remember when I was a child and our mother Teofila Trujillo made Fiesta outfits for all the sisters to wear on that special occasion. We also continue to encourage our nieces to run for Fiesta queens. Crucita Medina was already a queen, while Alysia Martinez and Sonrisa Medina were princesas. And this year, Kristina Medina is also a princesa. We are very proud of them.”

Elma Torres: bring more young people in

Elma and Martin Torres were part of the Taos Fiestas Council for 27 years. “They used to be called Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana,” said Elma Torres. “They also used to be celebrated on the 25th and 26th of July, but now they are held during the closest weekend so more people attend.”

For Torres, it is very important to keep the Catholic tradition as part of the celebration. “We can’t forget that the crowning of the queen takes place at the Church, at Our Lady of Guadalupe,” she said, “and that we are honoring the patron saints of Taos. But of course, the Fiestas also encompass the variety of cultures that form the fabric of our community. That’s why we have mariachis, Aztec dancers, performers from Taos Pueblo and different kinds of music. It is a celebration for all the people.”

Her message to the young generation is “keep the Fiestas alive.” “Get involved with them, become part of the Council,” said Torres. “It takes all year around to work on the Fiestas because the planning doesn’t happen in one day. We have the entertainment committee, the booth committee, the pageant committee… Vangie Romero and her daughter Sonya have been doing a wonderful job for many years, organizing the pageant and coaching the girls who compete for reina and princesas. We need more people like them!”

Liz Peralta: Fiestas forever

Liz Peralta was a founder of the Fiestas Council in 1980, along with her husband Alfred Peralta and Robert Gurule, David Fernandez, Andy Chavez and Armando Jaramillo. “I was the only woman at first, but Elma Torres joined a year after,” she said. “We put the bylaws together and made the Fiestas into a more organized event, though they had been going on forever. And we want them to go on forever, too.”

Peralta wants to pass on the Fiestas legacy to the younger generation. “Fiestas happen during the summer, a happy and wonderful time of the year,” she said. “Being part of them creates everlasting memories and strengthens the family and community bonds.”

On a personal level, the Fiestas have given Peralta many satisfactions. Besides her work at the Council, her daughter, Lala Peralta, and two of her granddaughters, Cammy Archuleta and Jasmine Peralta, have been princesas. But last year was even more special. “My granddaughter Juliette Elizabeth Peralta was crowned queen,” she said, “and we all were elated. Finally, una reina en la familia!” Peralta encourages all the young girls in town to try for the reina and princesa roles.

“They learn a lot through the process, and if they are chosen, they get to represent our town in many places and occasions,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Now and then

Señorita Angelica Esperanza Rodrigues was chosen as the 2013 Reina de las Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana. The Taos Fiesta Council invites the community to attend the Fiesta Mass and Crowning of the Queen that will take place in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Friday, July 19th at 5:30 pm.

For those who have participated in previous Fiestas and want to share their memories of them, SOMOS, the literary society of Taos, will be recording their experiences on Saturday July 19th from 11 am to 5 pm, at the SOMOS offices, 233

Paseo Del Pueblo Sur.

¡Que vivan las Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana!