Farmington Historical Walk will offer glimpse of city's commercial history

Coordinator hopes new event rivals popularity of annual Dining with the Dead

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The Artifacts Gallery will serve as the starting point for the Farmington Historical Walk on Saturday, May 1.
  • The Farmington Historical Walk takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 1 in downtown Farmington.
  • Tickets are $15 and are available for purchase at Artifacts and at Howard's Cleaners.
  • Call 505-325-5931 or 505-327-2907 for more information about the event.

FARMINGTON — Few events held each year in San Juan County can rival the popularity of the annual Dining with the Dead fundraiser held at Greenlawn Cemetery, which features re-enactors portraying many of San Juan County's more notable historical figures.

The event, which was established in 2013, quickly sells out every year, although it was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But coordinator Jill McQueary hopes a new companion event, the Farmington Historical Walk planned early next month, can rival Dining with the Dead in terms of generating public enthusiasm.

"This is something that people will remember for a long time," she said of the new event, which takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 1, in downtown Farmington. "This focuses more on early pioneers and their businesses, while Dining with the Dead focuses more on individuals. They're similar but they're different."

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The historical walk will begin at the Artifacts Gallery, 302 E. Main St., and will extend five blocks west through downtown Farmington. Participants will be assigned to a tour group, each of which will be led by a costumed guide.

Bob Lehmer, seen in this file photo telling the story of Joseph Wheeler during a dress rehearsal for a Dining with the Dead fundraising event, is among the historical re-enactors expected to participate in a downtown history walk on May 1.

At various points along the way, visitors will stop at historically significant sites, where they will be greeted by a re-enactor portraying a Farmington business owner from the early 20th century.

McQueary said the tour will offer a deep dive into the city's early commercial history, with plenty of insights being offered into the buildings that made up the downtown district and the people who operated those establishments.

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One highlight of the event will be a presentation by Tony DiGiacomo, who will portray one of the two brothers who robbed the Bowman Bros. Drug Store in the early 20th century.

The list of re-enactors also includes Tom Taylor, D'Ann Waters, Jimmy Voita, Cindy Reed, Judy Castleberry, Ron Price, Bob Lehmer, Casey Rouse, Scott Michlin, Gene and Wendy Schmidt, and Joey Herring.

Sallyanne Bachman and pianist Sheldon Pickering will entertain visitors at the Artifacts Gallery during the May 1 Farmington Historical Walk.

Some of the other historical figures who will be portrayed include Harriet Sammons, Farmington's first female bank president; Frank Allen, an entrepreneur who owned many of the city's early businesses, including a meat market, a livery stable, a filling station and a hotel; and C.C. Mumma, owner of Farmington Lumber.

Participants will begin the tour at Artifacts, where singer Sallyanne Bachman and piano player Sheldon Pickering will perform. Visitors will be assigned to a tour group and set out on a journey that McQueary expects to take between 80 and 90 minutes to complete. She said the last tour would depart Artifacts at sometime after 6 p.m.

Once the tour is over, participants are encouraged to return to the area of Orchard Park, where several vintage automobiles from the early 20th century will be displayed. Restaurants throughout the downtown area will offer meal specials to help celebrate the event.

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Historical walk tickets are $15 and are available for purchase at Artifacts and at Howard's Cleaners. McQueary said ticket sales would be capped at 300, so she advised that those interested in attending the event purchase them early to avoid disappointment.

The event will raise money for children's projects run by the Rio del Sol Kiwanis Club, which is sponsoring the event. Those projects include the annual Clothes for Kids, Shoes for Kids and Coats for Kids events that provide attire for needy children from throughout San Juan County.

The event will be held as scheduled provided San Juan County's status as being in the Yellow Level of the state's color-coded system for business restrictions does not worsen, McQueary said. San Juan County remained yellow in the latest update to the system released on April 21.

Call 505-325-5931 or 505-327-2907 for more information about the event.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.