New Mexico’s once-in-a-century celebration fills Silver City and
Las Cruces with history… and cake.
This month brings the sort of party we get to enjoy, oh, only every hundred years or so. On Friday, Jan. 6, New Mexico marks the centennial of achieving statehood in 1912. For a complete list of celebratory events, this month and all year long, see nmcentennial.org/events.
Locally, Silver City will celebrate with a Centennial Birthday Party downtown, where galleries will be open with special 100th birthday events. No birthday would be complete without cake, so there’s a Centennial Birthday Cake Contest, with the winners announced and a silent auction for the goodies at the Silco Theater, 4-7 p.m. Literacy Alive, which will benefit from the auction, will present "Voices of New Mexico," the kick-off event for its Student Centennial Reading Project essay and illustration contest, 5- 5:30 p.m. at the Silco.
At the Seedboat Center for the Arts, Randy Carr will present excerpts from his one-man play about Dan Tucker, chief deputy sheriff for Grant County from 1877 to 1888, 3-3:30 p.m. and 6:30-7 p.m.
Over at the Silver City Museum, children can enjoy "Lego Mindstorm" and fun with New Mexico's state symbols, 3:30-5 p.m. The WNMU Museum will present a talk by Cynthia Bettison at 3:30 p.m. on "Aspiration, Politics and Willpower: The People Behind the Formation of the Normal School in Silver City."
The Friday centennial activities wrap up with silent films from 1912 at the Silco at 7:15, followed by a dance with music by Brandon Perrault and Rhythm Mystic.
But the party’s not over! Saturday, Jan. 7, the celebration continues with exhibits at both museums, themed events at downtown galleries, and a presentation on the history of railroads in Grant County at the Public Library at 11 a.m. by Donald Beem. Then at 2 p.m. the Silver City Museum offers a staged play reading of Brothel (for mature audiences, in case you couldn't tell by the title).
On Monday, Jan. 9, the Museum Annex will host a centennial brownbag lunch with Magdaleno Manzanarez on "Local, Regional and Binational Politics."
The state's centennial activities in Las Cruces kick off at the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum on Thursday, Jan. 5, when Ohio actor Dale Liikala portrays President William Howard Taft in a Chautauqua performance at 7 p.m. "Our Reluctant President" introduces the audience to the only man in history who served as president and chief justice of the Supreme Court — and who signed New Mexico's statehood proclamation in 1912.
Then on Friday, the museum and Liikala will present a re-enactment of Taft signing the proclamation making New Mexico the 47th state. The event is called "Eyewitness to History: New Mexico Becomes a State" and begins at 11 a.m. in the Tortugas Gallery. Designed as a "time-travel" program, the presentation will have a news anchor and a reporter, along with a commentator (Dr. Jon Hunner of NMSU) set in 2012 reporting on the event, 100 years to the minute after it happened in the Oval Office at the White House. Local "actors" will portray the New Mexico delegates and cabinet secretaries who were present at the signing in 1912. The program is expected to last about an hour and is free to the public.
Immediately following Friday’s re-enactment, Dr. Hunner will speak about New Mexico's long struggle to statehood during a luncheon at the museum, which will feature some 1912-style items on the menu.
The Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum also has two new exhibits that provide a look into New Mexico’s first 100 years. "Land of Enchantment: Commemorating New Mexico's Centennial" features the largest collection of previous New Mexico statehood celebrations memorabilia (40th, 50th, 60th and 75th). The exhibit also shows some of the highlights of New Mexico's first 100 years as a state and chronicles the almost-comical journey to become a state. "It's All Symbolic: The State Symbols of New Mexico" reviews the icons, images and emblems that help make New Mexico stand out. While there are numerous unofficial symbols, these are the 40 symbols officially adopted by the legislature.
Elsewhere in Las Cruces, the Branigan Cultural Center will feature "Enchanted Visions of New Mexico," through Jan. 28, a show of quilts that highlight events and memories of the first 100 years of New Mexico statehood.
Friday night, the Amador Museum Foundation will host a Centennial Ball at the Amador Hotel.
And on Saturday, Jan. 7, Las Cruces' centennial parade, passing through historic parts of the city, will feature cars, equipment, representations of people and events, and groups formed in each decade of New Mexico’s 100 years of statehood.