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Farmer, parishioners gather for acequia blessing


Santiago Maestas carries a cross during a procession to the Armijo Acequia on Saturday at the annual San Ysidro y Santa Maria de la Cabeza celebration. Maestas is the president of the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

For years, Sonia Ornelas has looked forward to the acequia blessing event in the South Valley each May.

Now her young children join her in praying for rain and tossing flower petals into the Armijo Acequia.

The longtime Albuquerque resident gathered with other farmers and parishioners on Saturday at the Sanchez Farm for the annual San Ysidro y Santa Maria de la Cabeza celebration.

“Getting my kids involved is really special,” Ornelas said. “I think it’s good to teach them our traditions and culture and teach the importance of water.”

Saturday’s event marked the feast day of San Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers, laborers and gardeners.

In the Catholic tradition, San Ysidro’s wife, Santa Maria de la Cabeza, also blesses believers with abundant rain.

“My prayer is that the farmers will have water,” Deacon Leroy Sanchez said.


Flowers were placed in the Armijo Acequia in the South Valley on Saturday at the annual San Ysidro y Santa Maria de la Cabeza celebration. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Local farmers at the acequia echoed his plea for rain to alleviate the historic drought.

The irrigation season in central New Mexico started a month late this year and will likely be cut short again because of limited water supply.

Raquel Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico, has attended the South Valley event for more than 10 years.

She and her husband, who is a farmer, served as padrinos for the San Ysidro statue in 2012.

Padrinos take care of the statue for a year after the May event.

“To me, this day is a communal affirmation that the season is going to be good and there’s going to be good water and crops,” Rivera said.

The Aztec dance group Circulo Solar Ollin Xochipilli led the procession from Isleta Boulevard to the Armijo Acequia.

Deacon Sanchez and Santiago Maestas, president of the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias, recited blessings on the water for the upcoming year.

Lansalot Olguin, who raises goats at the Los Jardines Institute, was a first-time attendee at this year’s celebration.

“I grew up on a farm, and this is very moving to me,” he said. “Water is a precious commodity.”

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.



The Aztec dance group Circle Solar Ollin Xochipilli leads the annual San Ysidro Y Santa Maria de la Cabeza celebration to bless the Armijo Acequia that flows through the Sanchez Farm in the South Valley. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

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