It’s been great having the weeks leading up to the 2019 Fiesta de Santa Fe nice and quiet.
The prelude to the City Different’s annual celebration hasn’t been marred, so far, by argument over the long-running Entrada pageant, which for decades depicted the return of the Spanish to Santa Fe, led by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692, 12 years after the Pueblo Revolt.
In 2018, with great ceremony and after Native American protests over the Entrada had grown in size over the previous three years, the heavily religious pageant was appropriately dropped.
The change resulted from months of negotiation and collaboration among Fiesta organizers, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Los Caballeros de Vargas – a nonprofit Catholic ministry that was in charge of staging the Entrada for decades – the All-Pueblo Council of Governors and the city of Santa Fe.
There was a replacement event last year called Celebración de la Communidad de Fe (Celebration of Community Faith), which aimed to celebrate peace and reconciliation, mainly through prayers.
There was still a protest – but this time from a handful of people who want to bring the Entrada back.
The Celebración de la Communidad de Fe returns at 2 p.m. on the Plaza next Friday, this year establishing a theme of recognizing people who “have brought together peoples of all cultures and backgrounds” that is planned to continue into the future.
There still may be enmity over the Entrada or its banishment and it still could manifest itself during Fiesta.
But it’s time to let the wounds heal, and the Caballeros – who long tried to defend the Entrada as celebrating a peaceful moment in Spanish-Native American interaction, not the military conquest that the indigenous protesters said the pageant whitewashed – are commendably championing the move to reconciliation.
The Fiesta itself still has its local royalty depicting de Vargas and the Fiesta queen. De Vargas’ Marian statue is still usually called La Conquistadora. The Caballeros new celebración continues to present Catholic religious themes on the Plaza – it will emphasize “the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the lives of not only Don Diego de Vargas, but all the people who reside and work here, and have raised their families for over 300 years.”
But the dismissal of the Entrada – specifically marking the subjugation of Native people – was a major, crucial change toward a more inclusive celebration.
In any case, even for non-believers or those not into the Fiesta’s ceremonial and cultural meanings, it’s time to get a burrito or a green chile cheeseburger from a Fiesta vendor, check out Al Hurricane Jr. performing Friday night and the tribute to the late Tejano singing star Ernestine Romero on Sunday afternoon, or just meet old friends on the Plaza.