Admission will be free from Aug. 25 to 28, and several programs and events will be offered to celebrate the milestone

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FARMINGTON — Aztec Ruins National Monument will host a three-day celebration — complete with a birthday cake — to mark the National Park Service's 100th anniversary next week.

The festivities kick off Aug. 25, the date in 1916 when Congress passed legislation to create the federal agency. In honor of the milestone, Aztec Ruins will waive entrance fees Aug. 25 to 28. Items at the park store will be 15 percent off on Aug. 27.

Park ranger Danielle York will lead a facilitated dialogue program at 2 p.m. Aug. 25 about the National Park Service, and birthday cake will be served after the event. Nathan Hatfield, the chief of interpretation at the national monument, said facilitated dialogues encourage audience participation.

"It's almost like a round table discussion, rather than a lecture by a park ranger," he said.

Aztec Ruins will also offer several guided tours, including an opportunity to see the East Ruin at the monument starting at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 25 to 27.

"That's a neat opportunity for people to see something they're not normally able to see," Hatfield said.

Another guided tour opportunity will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 25. Park naturalist Dana Hawkins will lead a tour of the Heritage Garden and will discuss native plants ancestral Puebloan people cultivated.

Hatfield said the events are geared for people of all ages. He said children will likely enjoy the mock excavation and interactive pictoglyph station. Archaeologist Stephen Matt will lead the interactive activity from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 25.

The interactive Old Spanish Trail camp at 11 a.m. Aug. 26 will allow families to learn about the history of the area.

Native American artists will also demonstrate their work and sell their wares at the monument Aug. 25 to 27.

Another highlight of the week will be the naturalization ceremony. Fifteen new U.S. citizens will be naturalized at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 in the Great Kiva.

"The kiva has always been a ceremonial place," Hatfield said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

If you go

Mock excavation and interactive pictoglyph station: 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 25.

East Ruin tour: 9:30 a.m. Aug. 25 to 27

Heritage Garden tour: 11 a.m. Aug. 25

National Park Service centennial facilitate dialogue program: 2 p.m. Aug. 25

Not-So-Junior Ranger Old Spanish Trail camp: 11 a.m. Aug. 26

Naturalization ceremony: 11 a.m. Aug. 27

Native artist demonstrations: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25 to 27

All events take place at Aztec Ruins National Monument, located at 725 Ruins Road in Aztec. For more information, call 505-334-6174 or go to nps.gov/azru.

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