By Mary Alice Murphy

img 0216Faye McCalmontThe first of two speakers introduced by Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Derek Ratcliff was Faye McCalmont, special assistant for cultural affairs to the Western New Mexico University President.

McCalmont talked about the upcoming Fiesta Latina, which will take place June 22-24 on the WNMU campus, primarily at Old James Stadium.

The Mercado, which will feature many artisan vendors from throughout Mexico, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

She said a free stage will feature music, with Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto at 5 p.m. Friday; Jarabe Mexicano from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. and Brandon Perrault from 4:30-6 p.m. Saturday; WNMU's Mariachi Plata and Grupo de Danza Folklórico Paso del Norte from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

"For ticketed items, we will have a new event tent, where we will hold the opening night dance beginning at 6:30, with Nosotros/Bailarines de Santa Rueda They are great to dance to. We will also have salsa dancers on hand to teach and dance."

The headliner for the evening concert on Saturday will be Darren Córdova from 9-11 p.m., preceded by Eva Ybarra y Su Conjunto Siempre from 7-8:15 p.m.

"We will have lots of demonstrations, films with lectures, and new this year, a workshop for the Community Tree of Life in the WNMU Clay Studio," McCalmont said. "Patricia Castillo will teach the workshop where participants will create figures that will then be painted during the Clay Festival in July. The completed artwork will be on permanent display at the WNMU Library."

The tequila tasting is a ticketed item and will take place from 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

She said a weaver will talk about the dyeing process using a sea snail to gather a rare purple dye. Only a few artisans continue the traditional process of milking the snails and returning them to the sea to preserve them.

"We will have a huge children's area for activities," McCalmont said.

For more information on the fiesta, the full schedule and roster of vendors, visit fiestalatina.org.

img 0221Lee GruberLee Gruber of Syzygy Tile talked about the upcoming Clay Festival. "This is our seventh year of the festival. It was an idea that came to us because New Mexico MainStreet mandated the Arts and Cultural District to do a signature event. Of course, that was the last we heard about it. But with my background at 25 years as co-owner with my husband (David DelJunco) of Syzygy Tile and what clay and adobe have meant to the state, we decided to do a Clay Festival, as an event to generate economic development throughout the state and into Mexico."

"For the first time, we will have a two-week workshop for 20-25 people, led by Julia Galloway," Gruber said. "My goal has been not just a week of clay but now two weeks of clay, so it becomes an entity for creating works in clay."

She said the lecture series begins on Monday, July 16, with the main part of the festival continuing through July 21. "We will have clay fun, workshops, a dance, music and mud fun for the children. The tour will take participants to the Mimbres Heritage Site, the winery and Kate Brown's studio. 'Why the winery,' people ask me. Grapes grow in dirt."

Gruber said the group has looked for ways to broaden the festival. One of the lecturers will be Ron Troy of the New Mexico Conservancy. "We want to draw attention to the small artists and the creative economy. La Luz Historical Society will bring a collection of La Luz pottery and a lecturer. The festival connects the rural communities of New Mexico. This year for the first time, we are holding an Entrepreneurship for Creatives Workshop series, with the support of the Small Business Development Corporation, the WNMU School of Business and the marketing-for-creatives consulting firm Calindo."

Gruber said the workshops were not only for artists, but also farmers, to learn how to market products. She noted one workshop is for high school and early college students only.

She said she was honored to announce that the Western New Mexico Museum will open for a limited preview from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, July 20, as part of the Clay Festival.

WNMU Museum Director Cynthia Bettison said the museum is not ready to open. "Don't come at 1 minute to 1, and we will be closing immediately afterward. The pottery will not be displayed up to standards, but it will give you a preview of what we're doing. We will have a focus on one side on the prehistoric Mimbres pottery, on the other side campus history and upper Mogollon pottery. We have an eclectic mixture of collections. The weekend before the Clay Festival 2019, we will hold our Black Tie event fundraiser."

Gruber said she had been an entrepreneur since the age of 7 years. "I started a camp and charged each child 5 cents, and I used report cards after the event. My parents were educators. I've always been interested in small businesses. The creative economy is a buzzword now. Silver City can be built on a creative economy."

She said Syzygy Tile began 25 years ago. "When we started, we were told we could never make a living in Silver City. We now sell to 140 showrooms across the country. And I just got a call from Sydney, Australia, from someone interested in selling our tiles. I'm a hard worker and I have determination. Syzygy Tile is a great example of making things successfully. We have 25 people employed. It took 15 years before local people became aware of us and buying our product. Now it's a major tourist attraction. Every day we're giving tours of the factory. We can do so much to market ourselves."

Gruber said she intends to support creative entrepreneurship.

Scott Terry, Chamber director said: "We need to be having this talk with younger people. Young people don't understand that you have to put in effort to build a business. No young people are doing trades. Someday, we'll not have any plumbers or electricians. The trucking companies can't find truckers. The railroads are paying bonuses of $20,000 to $30,000 to get people to work for the railroads. A lot of people like to use their hands. This creative entrepreneurship can work."

Jane Janson, WNMU Small Business Development Center director, said, not to argue with Terry, but what's interesting is that in her three years at the SBDC, "I've seen a group of people, younger than I, staying here and opening businesses. We have some strong business people and entrepreneurs here. I have a positive feeling about it."

Terry noted the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center, which the chamber manages, would hold a Business Expo in October, sponsored by Freeport-McMoRan. "It will be for the small business person on how to work with stress. "

He said next month, the luncheon, instead of taking place the day after July Fourth, would be held on July 12. The August one will be held at Bear Mountain Lodge and in September, WNMU President Joseph Shepard would be encouraging people to vote for the General Obligation (GO) Bonds.

Ratcliff reminded people to buy booth slots and parade positions for the Fourth of July. "The Wine Festival is coming up July 14 and 15."

Terry said 12 wineries from throughout the state have signed up. Tickets for wine tastings will cost $15 each.

Ratcliff said the chamber would also host a golf tournament on Aug. 15 and invited members to provide goodies for bags.

Trent Bohl of Cactus Jack's said the inspector would be visiting on Friday. "By July Fourth, we should be dispensing medical cannabis."

Terry said New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program would be at the Conference Center on Friday, June 15, from10-11 a.m. providing information to small businesses about how they can grow with the NMSBA programs.

Sandy Feutz of FeVa Fotos and the Grant County Art Guild announced that the 33rd annual Purchase Prize Show deadline to receive art work is Aug. 2. "The judge will also do a workshop."

Live from Silver City

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