LAS CRUCES— The downtown area came alive Saturday as a multi-purpose, multi-event venue, with five simultaneous events on and around the recently reopened stretch of Main Street that was once the Downtown Mall.
Artists labored most of the day to create street masterpieces in the juried Avenue Art New Mexico competition.
At the south end of what used to be the Downtown Mall, Benjamin Hernandez, 15, created a giant New Mexican Zia symbol centered with a dreamcatcher.
"We have three teams from Centennial High School. My art students get extra points for this," said CHS art teacher Shelley Black.
Nearby, Cherish Flieder and Benjamin Hummel, of Denver, two of the event's non-competing exhibition artists, worked to recreate a sidewalk replica of a 1933 Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post magazine cover.
"It's bigger than last year. It was a good day," said Avenue Art New Mexico Founder Bob Diven, who reported that first place honors went to Frances Gomez, adult category, for a lively Dr. Seuss-inspired scene; Team Chavez & Chavez, student category, for a piece with leaping fish; and Tiera Mobley, youth category, for a work that featured roses and a skeleton. Team Hull & Dixon's monstrous "Show Me Your Teeth" won the Audience Favorite Award.
To see photos of sidewalk art, visit Avenue Art New Mexico on Facebook.
Twelve groups entertained at the Branigan Cultural Center's International Day of Dance at the Rio Grande Theatre. The event ended with a country line dance.
A few blocks away, the Las Cruces Railroad Museum finished up Railroad Days with a caboose dedication and a final day of special events and re-enactments.
"The caboose will be open for tours now," said Garland Courts, museum manager.
Organizers of some events are choosing the downtown area specifically because the region is regularly attracting more people.
"Now that Main Street has reopened, we thought it would be fun to hold British Car Days downtown, especially on a Saturday when the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market is open and there are a lot of people around," said Rona M. Lujan, coordinator for the British Car Club of Southern New Mexico event, which has been held on the Mesilla Plaza for several years.
"It's my first trip over here. It sounded like fun," said Barry Blackwell of Tucson, Ariz., who brought his 1967 Austin-Healey London Taxi.
"I drove my 1953 Bentley Empress here from Estancia, and I really enjoyed the drive," said Jock Finley.
Ana Fields of El Paso brought her newly restored 1947 Bentley, one of about 80 vehicles at the show.
Thousands regularly show up every Saturday for the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, which has achieved No. 1 state and national and ratings in recent years.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore