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Mountainair Sunflower Festival features art, live music

The Mountainair Sunflower Festival has celebrated more that 20 years of art, music and fun for a cause.

The event helps raise money for and raises awareness of the Manzano Mountain Art Council’s youth art programs in Torrance County as well as the land grants of Manzano, Torreon, Tajique and Chilili. The Art Council is also responsible for organizing cultural events and musical events.

In the past couple of years, the council has also added a Friday night event to help benefit the MMAC Center, which hosts a weekly youth art club, nonprofit meetings, yoga and workshops, as well as festivals. It also has a gallery of donated art, with profits going toward the building’s expenses.

Tonight’s event is an art opening featuring live jazz. Truth or Consequences Brewing Co. and Jarales Wines will be serving their offerings at the event. Saturday’s festival, named after the flower that blooms throughout Mountainair this time of year, will include a number of fun activities for the entire family, including children’s art projects and a bounce house. There will be a raffle of donated items from participating vendors at the festival. Entertainment will be provided by the Kevin Michael Band and Kyle Martin.

“The roots of the Sunflower Festival, it is an art festival, but as it went along, you know, now we’ve got a juried (art) show,” Smith said. “I believe it’s juried inside the Dr. Saul Community Center. And then we’ve got vendors outside, and I think we have probably 75 vendors. It’s gotten pretty big. And we have music, and we have the Sunflower Hat Contest, which is a big deal, which is open to everybody.”

Many donate items such as hats, silk flowers, ribbon and other items that participants can use for their headpieces entered in the Sunflower Hat Contest.

“Some people make their hats at home,” Smith said. “They just come. And then some people come to the Sunflower Festival and they go to this big table and they pick things out and they make a hat and then they go through the town. They walk through the town, all the adults and kids that made their hats, and they walk through the town. There’s a little parade of hats and then they come back to where the music is and we kind of have a vote by volume (audience applause) and then we have a winner.”

This year, the Art Council is collaborating with the town of Mountainair to present the festival.

“They’ve been very supportive, and we have a new mayor, and he is really into making the town more prosperous, beautifying the town, collaborating with local groups,” Smith said. “He’s really made a big difference in the town just in the short time that he’s been mayor. We’re looking forward to collaborating, because that used to just be sponsored by the Manzano Mountain Art Council, but now we’re working with the town, and it really does help when the town is part of the plan.”

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