Live for your dreams, not your memories. – Matshona Dhliwayo
Corrales is proving that doing both is possible, as it brings back, with the odds stacked against it by Mother Nature, the crown jewel of its parties, Harvest Festival. Long-time Corralenos recall the celebration as a total focus on agriculture, a chance for the community to celebrate its months of hard work, while newer patrons may be wondering if celebrating “harvest” is realistic after a very hard year.
Begun in 1985 with hayrides during harvest season, the festival has grown and changed significantly through the years, becoming more inclusive and diverse, featuring artists and food trucks and family events for two solid days. Third-generation Corraleno farmer and Chef Jon Young remembers it fondly, while looking forward to what the future brings.
“As a child, I remember it being more about harvest, farming, a community gathering that others would come to take part in. It was a celebration of Corrales. It was focused on getting people to come out. It has grown, morphed, and changed. This year, I’m excited to see what it will be post pandemic. Will it come back to its glory?”
So do Corrales farmers have something to glory over after a record drought summer, marked by fierce forest fires statewide and then by an unusually early, sometimes intense, monsoon season?
Young says yes. Because of their resilience and ability to adapt, local farmers were able to take a double hit. In addition to the forces of nature brought to bear, Corrales growers were dealt an especially severe blow when their aging irrigation system mechanics failed and what watering capacity they had was cut drastically.
“It was no longer able to draw water from the river to our acequia system,” Young said.
How did they cope? What do they have to celebrate? Young said different farms had different issues to consider.
“The larger farms faced a dilemma with the water insecurity,” he said. “You would normally see a lot of corn fields, but corn takes a lot of water, so they had to make the decision to plant sunflowers instead of corn – or you might see a lot of fields just not planted.”
His own smaller At Last Farm had already switched mainly to drip-system crops, so they were able to withstand the water shortage a bit better than some others. Then, he said, the rains came.
“The rains saved a lot of crops,” he said. “In farming, there is no crystal ball. Maybe if we’d known about the rain, you’d see more corn.” But the harvest is, he said, definitely worthy partying over. Thankfully, scores of volunteers are making that possible.
The 37thAnnual Village of Corrales Harvest Festival, to be held Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. –5 p.m. both days, offers varied activities that run the length of the business district. Festivities begin at Meadowlark on the south and extend north to the Old Church, where a party within a party is happening.
Corrales Harvest Festival is happy to be back after a two-year COVID-driving hiatus, showcasing “the many charming aspects of the Village of Corrales from its strong agricultural roots to local artists, merchants and historic culture,” according to information from Kiwanis Club of Corrales, the organization that stages the festival. Admission to the event includes access to Festival Central (Kid’s Korner, Main Food Court, Live Music, Beer Garden & more) as well as all-day, unlimited hayrides through the Village with 11 tractor stops. Each stop features different activities and attractions for the whole family. A Saturday night Hootenanny Dance at the Corrales Soccer Fields brings day one to a spectacular close. Vehicle traffic is restricted to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Parking for the event is free.
At the Historic Old San Ysidro Church & Casa San Ysidro, the last stop on the hayride route, Corrales Historical Society is offering its Historic Heart of Corrales Fiesta. Included there are Baila! Baila!, a Kids’ Ballet Folklorico; various musicians; and demonstrations of such cultural treasures as retables, colcha embroidery, wood carving and butter churning, along with the chance to see two of the Village’s iconic historic buildings. Historical Society members said fruits are even now being harvested for namesake prizes to be won at the “very popular” Pie Walk, back for its fifth year.
Everyone – from Village residents to guests from around the region – is invited to join in this joyous happening. Tickets are $15 per person. Kids under 12 are free. Tickets for Saturday’s dance are $20 for adults, with those 16 and under free with a paying parent. All proceeds benefit Kiwanis Club of Corrales Foundation, a non-profit, 501c(3) organization.