Music festival draws bands from across the state

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The streets of downtown Belen will be alive with music this Saturday, as Celebrate Belen kicks off its first Country and Americana Music Festival.

The festival, full of music and family fun, runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 17. The gates open at 10 a.m.

This is the first in an ongoing series of street festivals to be held along Belen’s downtown Becker Street between Second and Fifth streets, said Jan Johnson, a festival organizer.

Not only is the festival an opportunity for economic development for the city of Belen and surrounding areas, Johnson says, but the proceeds from the event will directly benefit local veterans.

“There are a lot of vets down here and the organizations all kind of have a niche they serve. They are kind of specialized,” Johnson said. “By working with the Central Rio Grande Veterans Organization, we can assist veterans in ways the existing organizations might be able or allowed to.”

The Central Rio Grande Veterans Organization is a newly formed group that will act as an umbrella group for local and regional veterans to access services.

The Celebrate Belen Country and Americana Music Festival will have 10 bands on two stages, along with room for dancing.

While most of the activities are inside the gates and require a ticket, Steve Tomita, the city’s planning and zoning director, said there will be a “free zone” for people to enjoy. The indoor mercado, farmers market, custom motorcycle competition and horseshoe pitching contest will be between Fifth and Sixth streets, outside the gates.

The veteran’s area will also be in that same block. Johnson said veterans organizations from across the state will be stationed near the main entrance at Fifth Street and Becker Avenue, offering information and assistance to veterans.

Raffle tickets will be given for each $5 in cash or equivalent items donated to the veterans.

In addition to the live music, inside the paid area there will be a food court, beer and wine garden, New Mexico arts and crafts and square dancing.

The local theater troupe, The Mansion Players, will be performing a melodrama, “The Rustlers of Redrock,” at 2 p.m. at the Belen Public Library. The troupe will also be doing skits from past shows on the stages, between music sets, throughout the day.

During the festival, the First Baptist Church of Belen will open its south annex at 115 South Fourth St. for people to get out of the heat. A private diaper-changing station will also be available at the annex.

Hand-washing stations and portable toilets will be located behind the library.

Overnight camping for festival goers will be available at Willie Chavez Park on River Road in Belen.

The New Mexico Rail Runner is making a special run to Belen for the festival, starting at 7 a.m.

Festival attendees coming in by train can catch a Rio Metro shuttle over to the festival. The shuttles will also be running to Our Lady of Belen Fiestas.

The last train back to Albuquerque leaves at 10:30 p.m. and the final train to Santa Fe departs at 9 p.m.

For the early birds, Rita’s Restaurant at the corner of Sixth Street and Becker Avenue, and Harla Mays Fat Boy Grill on Dailes Avenue will be open for breakfast.

“We are trying to establish Belen as a venue, a destination,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of good, local events that are well organized. They just aren’t well advertised outside of southern Valencia County. You would be amazed at how much is going on.”

For more information on the Celebrate Belen Country and Americana Music Festival, visit www.celebratebelen.com.

Ticket prices: $20 adults; $15 military with ID, students, seniors and online at www.holdmyticket.com. Children under 12 are free. (Tickets purchased online can be picked up at the entrance gate at Fifth and Becker)

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Second Street Stage
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Hard Road Trio (Americana/bluegrass)
1-2 p.m.: Sean Healen (Americana/folk rock/rock)
3-4:30 p.m.: Joe Daddy, Hoodoo Jeff and the Swamp Kings (swamp blues)
5-6:30 p.m.: Squash Blossom Boys (bluegrass)
7-8:30 p.m.: New Orleans Music Revue with Bob Andrews, featuring John Carey (New Orleans blues)

Fifth Street Stage
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Bob Farrell and Brushfire Band (country/swing)
1:30-3 p.m.: Rockabilly Strangers (rockabilly)
3:30-5 p.m.: Broomdust Caravan (country/bluegrass)
5:30-7 p.m.: Felix and Los Gatos (country/Tex-Mex/zydeco)
7:30-9 p.m.: Joe West and the Santa Fe Revue (Americana)