After Mother Nature welcomed July’s arrival with some spectacular fireworks of her own, Sierra County residents quickly attended to storm cleanups in order to begin focusing on preparations for this weekend’s Independence Day celebrations.
FIREWORKS Highlighting the community’s annual observance of the Fourth of July will of course be the 2013 Elephant Butte Fireworks Extravaganza. This year’s pyrotechnic display will once again be staged off Rattlesnake Island at Elephant Butte Lake State Park (EBLSP) and is scheduled to begin illuminating the skies just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 6. EBLSP officials will waive standard park entry fees beginning at 6 p.m. They are anticipating a large turnout of visitors on hand to view the fireworks and share in other celebrations at one of the state’s most unique and impressive venues. Bearing in mind the recent turn to wetter conditions, organizers have set aside Sunday evening, July 7 as an alternative date for the annual show, should significant rain return to Sierra County Saturday evening, as some forecasts have suggested. Further details about this weekend’s festivities and other related information is available through EBLSP headquarters at 101 Highway 195, or by phoning (575) 744-5923. By law no personal fireworks are permitted within the boundaries of the state park. Despite the recent and potential rain, fire restrictions remain in effect throughout Sierra County and neighboring municipalities. Visitors, as well as local residents, are encouraged to abide by all current restrictions regarding campfires and are asked to practice safety when engaging in the proper use of legally permitted fireworks over the holiday weekend.
BULL RIDERS UNITE This weekend’s festivities will also be highlighted by the Freddie Torres Memorial Bull Riding event, named in honor of a former Mayor of T-or-C, longtime civic leader, businessman and much-beloved community figure, Freddie J. Torres. The special rodeo event is expected to feature some of the region’s top riders, who will all be vying to win a share of more than $7,000 in established cash prizes. The two-day gathering and bull riding extravaganza begins at 4 p.m. Friday, July 5 and continues again at the same time Saturday afternoon, with all activity centering at the Sierra County Sheriff’s Posse Arena, located at the end of Rodeo Arena Road, off Third Avenue, just east of downtown T-or-C. The scheduled line-up includes events for competitors of all ages. Young wranglers six and under will put their mutton-busting skills on display for an established $200 prize, while participants between the ages of seven and nine will focus on calf-riding techniques and a portion of the $300 set aside for the event. A Mini-Bull riding event will feature competition for 10 to 12 year old participants, who will vie for a piece of the $500 prize money earmarked for the contest. Teen-age riders 13 to 15 will gather from all parts to join in the Junior Bull riding events both Friday and Saturday. With a full $2,000 in prize money up for grabs, many of the region’s most promising young riders will be putting their finest skills on display. The weekend’s Open Bull riding events will highlight each day’s activities. This exciting contest will similarly feature many of the area’s best riders, who will compete for a full-ride, top honors and a hefty portion of the $4,000 prize money. The competition promises to be as fierce and the bulls will be ready to give everyone a tough time. The Pine Knot Saloon and Sullivan’s Riding Bulls are jointly sponsoring the Freddie Torres Memorial. All proceeds from the event benefit the Hot Springs Rodeo Association. Further details about the Freddie Torres Memorial and information about this weekend’s event, may be obtained by phoning Travis Sullivan at (575) 518-8164, or Victor Torres at (575) 635-0538.
OTHER ACTIVITIES •The Elephant Butte Inn and Spa, 401 Highway 195 in Elephant Butte, will host a Backyard Barbecue from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 6. The event will feature live music, games and prizes for all ages, as well as generous servings of barbecue, “trimmings” and a prime view of the evening’s fireworks display. Adult admission for the event is $12, $9 for children 5 to 10 years old and free for youngsters under 5 years of age. Further details are available at the Elephant Butte Inn, or by phoning (575) 744-5431. •Sierra County winery Shattuck Vineyard will be open to the public and feature free wine tasting over the Independence Day holiday weekend. Proprietors will welcome guests from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 6, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. Shattuck Vineyard is located at 43 Bridle Road in Caballo, New Mexico. For exact directions and other information phone (915) 491-9459.