Aztec Chamber of Commerce cancels summer tradition

Ideas for new events being sought

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Ron Long prepares for the burning of Old Man Gloom June 7, 2014, at Riverside Park in Aztec.
  • Fiesta Days faced competition from other regional events.
  • Fiesta Days has been an Aztec tradition since the 1980s.

FARMINGTON — One Aztec summer tradition apparently is coming to an end, but the town's chamber of commerce is looking for ideas for other events.

Over the past few decades, Aztec Fiesta Days has been the chamber of commerce's largest fundraiser, according to The Daily Times archives. Aztec Chamber of Commerce President Vangie Garza Neil confirmed that the event has been canceled.

Looking back:Carnival returns to Fiesta Days in Aztec

Fiesta Days was Aztec's kickoff to summer, and featured music, games, food, a car show, a pet parade, a carnival and the burning of Old Man Gloom. Old Man Gloom is based on Zozobra, a marionette effigy that is burned each year in Santa Fe. People write their worries on pieces of paper that are then placed inside the effigy prior to it being burned. Burning Old Man Gloom is symbolic of burning away worries.

Gerald Peña, right, wipes down his grandfather's 1942 Chevrolet International June 6, 2015, during a car show at Aztec's Fiesta Days at Minium Park.

Fiesta Days began in the 1980s and included the annual unveiling of the six old soreheads — a group of six Aztec residents who were chosen from a group of nominees each year, according to The Daily Times archives. People voted for the soreheads using pennies that later were donated to community projects. The unveiling of the old soreheads later was moved to Founders' Day, and last year was not included in the Founders' Day celebration.

Fiesta Days faced heavy competition from other regional summer events, according to the chamber newsletter. While it traditionally took place the first weekend of June, the chamber changed the date last year due to competition from KidFest.

2016:KidFest attracts a crowd to McGee Park

The annual event also faced challenges attracting vendors. When the club that traditionally hosted the car show pulled out last year, the chamber hosted a "wash and shine" car show.

Visitors stroll through the carnival during Aztec Fiesta Days on June 18 at Riverside Park in Aztec.

The costs of presenting the carnival also became a challenge for the chamber. In 2015, Fiesta Days did not include a carnival, and in 2014 the chamber contracted with a smaller carnival. According to archives, the 2014 carnival hardly generated enough revenue to pay for the event.

While Fiesta Days is over, the burning of Old Man Gloom is not going away. This year, the Wings and Wheels event at the Aztec Municipal Airport in May featured the burning of Old Man Gloom. Wings and Wheels is an annual event that started two years ago and features a car show, as well as planes flying into the airport. The event attracted more than 1,600 people, according to the chamber of commerce.

People who have ideas for summer events can email or call 505-334-7646.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.