SANTA FE, N.M. — Although Saturday will mark the fifth annual fall festival at the Los Luceros Historic Site north of Española, this time, the event is going to be a little more special.
“This is the first year that it’s been designated a historic site,” Ethan Ortega, interim site manager, said of the state Legislature’s approval to make it the state’s eighth official historic site.
“That had been a concern for locals and people in (the state Department of) Cultural Affairs. But now we can all breathe a sigh of relief because it will be protected forever.”
The annual harvest day on the historic ranch has quickly become a big deal locally, he said.
“It’s a big community event,” Ortega said. “The goal really is to distribute the apples that we have rather than them going to waste. We want to share them with the local community.”
The legislation also provides money for staffing, preservation and education, he said.
The ranch “really touches a lot of ethnic groups,” Ortega said. “The pueblo people had a village here. It was Tewa … . And it had a long Hispanic history, and in the 20th century with the Anglo community, so it’s a site that almost everyone can relate to. Everyone that comes here connects pretty quickly.”
The money and staffing means “the site is going to blossom,” he added.
On Saturday, the site’s main, two-story Spanish-style adobe hacienda will be open and staffed by docents who will be on hand to answer questions about the house that was actually built atop – and incorporates – an old pueblo-style structure that dates back about 600 years, Ortega said.
Visitors to the 148-acre site can also tour a Victorian-era cottage, a chapel and an old barnyard full Churro sheep and other livestock, such as a burro, chickens and goats. The acequia madre that draws water from the Rio Grande to the property is an historical attraction in that it is one of the oldest ditches in the state, dating back to the 1700s.
Likewise, the 1,000-tree apple orchard includes heritage or heirloom varieties, and will be open with the ripe apples available for picking Saturday. Visitors can stuff them into their own bags or make a donation to get a bag. Pickers are forbidden to use ladders or other climbing aids, but people may bring hand-held apple pickers.
“We had a bumper crop last year,” Ortega said. “It’s not as many as last year, but we still have a ton of apples. There’s enough apples to go around this year, even through it’s not a bumper crop. There’s more than plenty of apples for everyone.”
The day will be punctuated by a full slate of performances, including by Cipriano Vigil y La Familia Vigil, the Pimento Brothers, Sol Fire and Moving Arts Española, whose young dancers will perform in flamenco, hip hop and folklorico styles.
“Over the years, this developed into a lot more than simple apple picking,” Ortega said. “We’ll have a full concert series throughout the day.”
The multi-cultural Moving Arts Española has been at each of the festivals and considers it an honor to perform for community members, said Roger Montoya, the group’s artistic director.
“These are our children and we’re celebrating the community,” he said. “It gives our children a chance to shine.”