Hub City Rail Heritage Day to be celebrated in Belen on Saturday

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Step into the early 1900s when the railroad made its first appearance into the Hub City, and Felipe Chavez had opened the doors of the Harvey House for traingoers to make pit stops.

Belen's history will come to life in "Belen Train Days," a historical musical play, performed as part of the second annual Hub City Rail Heritage Day on Saturday, May 12, at the Belen Public Library.

By attending the performance, residents will learn secrets of this railroad city, such as why the railroad came to Belen and why Dalies Avenue curves, said Deborah Graham, Belen Public Library director.

"This city has such a rich heritage. There is so much here and we should celebrate it," Graham said.

The musical, written by Los Lunas resident Nancy Strickland, takes viewers on a journey full of characters, such as railroad engineers, Harvey House cooks and Harvey House Girls, detailing in song, dance and tale why the railroad and Harvey House were brought into Belen, said The Mansion Players artistic director Marie Benoit.

"So many times, we live in a place and don't know anything about it," Benoit said. "Hopefully, this will explain to people why the train is even here, why the Harvey House is there and how it improved the quality of life for people in Belen."

This sentimental journey will be introduced through a series of songs from the 1900s by musical group, The Sunshine Strummers Band.

The Mansion Players will also perform two songs revolving around the Hub City, including "The Belen Song" and "B-town."

The local theater group, who had four weeks to put the performance together, was aiming at introducing Valencia County residents to theater performances closer to home, Benoit said.

The hour-long performance will be shown at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the library.

On top of the performance, Heritage Day, which is also National Train Day, is lined up with numerous special events.

Eighteen local authors, ranging from poetry to science fiction and mystery, will be displaying and autographing their work in the library's patio at 10 a.m., including authors Richard Melzner, Annmarie Pearson, Bonnie Rucobo and John Taylor.

Folk singer Gair Linhart will be performing from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by Walter Lawendowski's music at 1 p.m.

Giant rolls of sheets will also be laid out in front of the library patio, where attendees can paint what they love about Belen.

Baked goods, drinks, children's movies, face painting and balloon animals will also be available.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.