Viva New Mexico Chile Festival scheduled in Los Lunas this weekend


The inaugural Viva New Mexico Chile Festival hosted by Jimmy and Roxanne Wagner and local sponsors, including the village of Los Lunas, has a large variety of food, music and activities scheduled for the whole family this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9.

The Wagners have advertised the event from as far south as Socorro to as far north as Santa Fe, as well as digitally on the Rail Runner, to invite everyone to celebrate the state’s favorite crop harvest and New Mexico’s Centennial birthday.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Jim and Roxanne Wagner, with the help of local sponsors including the village of Los Lunas, are hosting an official New Mexico Centennial event, Viva New Mexico Chile Festival, at their Los Lunas farm north of Walmart in Los Lunas this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8 and 9.

Hayride tours will run every 30 minutes, and there are large and small corn mazes, a petting zoo and cow milking demonstrations, lots of arts and crafts vendors, fresh-roasted chile for sale, several local Middle Rio Grande chile farmers, farmers markets and local products, a chile cook-off and salsa contest, plus Space Walk jumpers for the kids.

“We’re going to do a lot of give-aways, too, throughout the day, like T-shirts of the festival and posters,” said Jimmy Wagnor.

Some of the vendors also plan gratuitous items.

The “Pope of Peppers” author, Dave Dewitt, will be there, as well as Los Lunas historian B.G. Burr and author Francelle Alexander to give presentations about local history and sign their books.

The Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts will have a booth with photos and history of chile farming in the county.

There will be a beer garden and a music line up including blues music from the Christian Brooks Band, who will perform the official festival song, “Green Chile Stew,” by the late Brother Dave from the Tempted Souls, local artist Shawn Kiehne with his El Gringo band, the Memphis P-Tails and Tobias Rene.

“Some people refer to him (Tobias Rene) as the king of New Mexico Hispanic music,” said Ernie Ulibarri, the festival’s music coordinator. “He also plays country music.”

Music is scheduled all day, each day. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the flavor is Latin with favorite rancheras starting off with the Lost Howlin Coyotes, a bluegrass band from Valencia County, and One Foot In, a variety band from the Los Lunas area.

“The Latin Heartbreakers, a New Mexico mariachi duo from Lordsburg, mix it up really good,” said Ulibarri. “They’re real popular with the younger generations.”

Los Amigos del Valle Norte, a mariachi band with Stanley Gutierrez, is led by Luis Jaramillo, a former University of New Mexico music teacher, and Severo y Groupo Fuego is a 2012 winner of the Tejano music awards.

The last group on Saturday is El Gringo, which is the gringo from Los Lunas Shawn Kiehne’s band.

Kiehne learned to speak Spanish and sing rancheras working with vaqueros on his father’s ranch in El Paso.

He sang “Tocame,” which was a big song and was used in the film “Quinceanera,” said Ulibarri.

On bluesy Sunday, the bands include the Squash Blossom Boys that have a nice blue grass flavor, the local Firebirdz Band, a variety band of polished musicians, and the One-Eyed Baby Snakes, who are an Albuquerque band of seasoned musicians.

“Mark Gonzalez is an incredible guitar player,” Ulibarri said.

The Todd Tijerina Band has another amazing guitarist, he said, and was a winner of the Rory Block Garners Blues award.

Christian Brooks grew up with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and his band is very popular in Dallas. He’s the keystone band for the day and is a highly respected guitar player in Albuquerque, said Ulibarri.

He plays blues cajun style, and was influenced by Vaughan’s style.

The Memphis P-Tails opened for Blueseum, an event sponsored by the city of Albuquerque at the Balloon Museum, and they have another great guitarist.

There are so many attractions you won’t want to miss, and so many fun things to do, and good food to eat — you won’t want to miss this official New Mexico Centennial chile harvest extravaganza.

The Wagner Farm and festival is located at 1420 Desert Willow Road behind the Los Lunas Walmart. Just follow the road north until it dead ends.

There will be plenty of tents for shade, and plenty of parking. Admission is $5 for children and $7 for adults.

To view a schedule of events, visit

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