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Susie Johnson, left, Marcie Dignam and Bobbie Romero admire the handmade jewelry at Sandy Martinez s booth at the Mimbres Valley Harvest Festival on Saturday. It was the third year the three friends, all from Silver City, drove to Mimbres for festival. We came for the jewelry, Romero said. They had also purchased some produce, peanut butter and bread. We re just getting started, Dignam said with a smile.

MIMBRES Ð Crowds of people came out to shop, eat, enjoy some music and have a little bit of fun at the Mimbres Valley Harvest Festival on Saturday.

"Everything is so great," said Cheryl Stolte, of Girard, Kan. "I love spending time out here. Everyone has been so nice and the weather is beautiful."

Stolte was visiting her father who lives in Mimbres.

The festival, celebrating its 7th year, is the largest fundraiser for the Mimbres Valley Health Action League. The nonprofit's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for the people of the Mimbres Region.

"It's been absolutely wonderful," said Marilyn Markel, co-director of the festival. "It was a great turnout and there have been no problems."

More than 40 vendors sold local produce, jewelry, bread, artwork and books.

It was Susie Johnson, Marcie Dignam and Bobbie Romero's third year in a row at the festival. The three friends, all from Silver City, enjoyed the beautiful weather and the hospitality.

"We always end up getting stuck at the jewelry tables," Romero said with a smile. "We've already bought some produce, peanut butter and bread. We're just getting started."

The music of Illusion Band and Bayou Seco provided the soundtrack for the day. Folks rested their legs and their wallets and sat on bales of hay under the performance tent and enjoyed the shade and music.

The pie-judging contest, a festival tradition, awarded first-place ribbons and pie dishes for the best pies.


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. Kathleen Clinton won first in the apple category, Pauline Dempster's pineapple pie took first in the fruit category and MaeDell Watkins' pie was chosen as the best in the pecan category.

"It was my third year entering in the contest," Clinton said. "I took first place my first year."

Festival co-directors Markel and Sonny Johnson walked around and sold raffle tickets for $1. The prizes, all donated, included cash, gift baskets, gift certificates and even an airplane ride over the Mimbres Valley.

"This festival wouldn't be possible without the help of the community," Johnson said. "It's great that San Lorenzo Elementary allows us to use the space."

San Lorenzo hosts their fundraiser every year at the Mimbres Valley Harvest Festival. The school sold a brisket dinner for $6, with all the proceeds helping the school and its programs. The school also hosted a health fair that offered folks free health screenings and health information.

It's only fitting that a festival held at a school would have an area just for kids to enjoy. Children enjoyed face-painting, arts and crafts, and could even paint boxes that were used to make a huge cardboard castle.

"It's so nice to see all the children having fun," said Nancy Coinman, head of promotions for Mimbres Valley Health Action League. "It was a great day for kids."

Daniel Laverty can be reached at (575) 538-5893 ext. 5803.