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Farmington will host annual hot rod car show

Brett Berntsen
bberntsen@daily-times.com
Jerold Arguello, left, and Diego Baca look at classic cars parked along Main Street July 18 during the annual Land of Enchantment Rod Run in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Hundreds of classic and custom cars will line the streets of downtown Saturday for the 34th annual Land of Enchantment Rod Run and Block Party.

Bob Fuller, president of the Northern New Mexico Street Rodders club, said he expects about 300 vehicles to participate in what could prove to be the event’s biggest spectacle to date. The show will feature live music at two stages complete with beer gardens and a Jumbotron broadcasting the performances throughout downtown.

“It’s going to be fun,” Fuller said. “It’s going to be crazy.”

Fuller said that since the rod run moved downtown from Civitan Park two years ago, the new venue has boosted attendance and participation. The show will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and take place along Main Street from Schwartz Avenue to Court Avenue

About 15,000 people attended the event in 2015, according to Lisa Hutchens, supervisor of the Farmington Civic Center, which helped organize the festivities. Hutchens said she expects an even greater turnout this year, thanks to a heightened outreach efforts.

The city contracted with the local advertising company Majestic Media to promote and attract sponsors.

“They asked us to add some more sizzle to it this year,” Majestic Media President Don Vaughan said.

Devon Allman performs Saturday during the Land of Enchantment Rod Run in downtown Farmington.

Vaughan said those changes include the musical headliner Devon Allman, son of Allman Brothers frontman Gregg Allman.

“He’s definitely a step up in entertainment,” Vaughan said. “It’s going to feel like a huge concert down there.”

Despite the festivities, not all downtown business owners are thrilled with the changes. John Silva, owner of the Three Rivers Brewery, said visitors to the show used to migrate downtown in the evening and stay into the night. Silva said this year’s schedule will force attendees to brave the mid-day heat — predicted to reach 98 degrees on Saturday.

“You’re talking about people coming downtown at the hottest part of the day to look at cars on blacktop.” Silva said. “I really question how it’s going to go this year.”

Silva said he’s also frustrated with the increased sponsorship fees for businesses to sell products at the show. He said that the $2,500 asking price to operate the beer gardens was too high.

“I won't have any involvement,” Silva said. “I’ve washed my hands of it.”

Vaughan said that event organizers decided to establish an official alcohol vendor as part of an effort to continue growing the rod run. He said Three Rivers was offered the beer gardens contract but officials there declined. The sponsorship was then picked up by the liquor store and bar Distil.

“I get that Three Rivers is upset because they can’t sell beer to 15,000 people for only $100 anymore,” he said. “Someone took the contract though, so it must still be worth it.”

Vaughan said that although the rod run is a little flashier this year, the emphasis will remain on showing off the cars and promoting hot rod culture.

Phil Kennedy, a member of the Northern New Mexico Street Rodders, echoed that sentiment. He said car shows serve an important role in attracting interest in vehicle restoration and customization.

“It can provide young people a hobby or something to do instead of drugs,” Kennedy said.

And for some people, the activity can become much more than a pastime. Kennedy, who said he owns 22 Ford Mustangs, described the event as an opportunity to share his passion with others.

“For many of us, our whole lives are surrounded by cars,” he said. “This is a chance to get out and meet other people like us.”

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606. 

If you go

What: Land of Enchantment Rod Run

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Downtown Farmington along Main Street from Schwartz Avenue to Court Avenue. 

More Info: Visit the Northern New Mexico Street Rodders website at northernnewmexicostreetrodders.com