Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mudgap 2011 Outlook and 2011 Recap

Hello Mudgap aficionados, those resident and those afield. My nephew, Hal, asked me to post something about community affairs and I've been intending to but things get kind of strained for me at this time of year. It's a little late but maybe you'll enjoy getting some news even if not as timely as I'd have liked.
The Solomon Line administrators, operators of our old steam train excursion ride from Las Cruces, tell me they did better than expected last year but on average carried about ten fewer visitors per day than the previous year. I think that was reflected in the overall tourist industry this year even though our usual special events were well attended.
In March we had the 93rd production of Mudgap's winter carnival, held annually since 1895 except for the depression years and the two world wars. Popular activities this year included ice skating, curling, snowmobiling and other winter sports and a presentation of King Lear on the Historical Society’s outdoor stage. There was the one incident with the snowmobile going over Rooster's Bluff and I won't say anything more about that since legal proceedings are pending.

Our 2010 Fourth of July bash was more spectacular than ever despite the economic down turn. This years street vendors, family games and fireworks were augmented by the traditional Shakespeare bash at the Opera House. We were fortunate indeed to have a traveling thespian group from NMSU visit and participate.

Also in July the fifteenth gathering of the Sierra Fangosos Southwestern Writers’ Roundup, for authors and book lovers featuring open-air readings, lectures, seminars and confabulation was a great success despite diminished participation. The apparent outbreak of a street fight during the first day and other reports of vandalism were way over reported by the media, I've been told. Still, it can't be denied a certain "element" has taken root in our little mountain town and we shouldn't ignore it.

In August the Bear Hill Players staged their ninth annual production of Emerson Stockton Bardwell’s, The American Pilgrim at the Estatua Opera House. If you were lucky enough to get tickets you were able to enjoy this iconic play as interpreted by our local dramatists. This years performance was graced, unexpectedly by a presentation of the Bardwell Award, made by the Emerson Stockton Bardwell Association for "inspired devotion to the author's principles and vision". Numerous playgoers rode the Solomon Line Excursion steam train into the mountains for an evening of fun and fine theater.

This years production by the Bear Hill Players of one of their most popular and long-lived productions, the dramatization of Lewis Carroll’s "The Hunting of the Snark" was fun but, all in all, a disappointment. This classic favorite was enhanced in the previous year with musical numbers that elevated the production to new heights. Unfortunately, the decision this year to experiment with a punk-rock interpretation, coupled with the sudden ice storm, dampened some of the usual artistic interest. The closing night raid by the ATF, while understandable and to some extent appreciated by the local populace, was nonetheless a low note.

In the coming year Mudgap will be doing its usual fare, with some new wrinkles, and an entirely new event will be added as well.

The Winter Carnival will kick off the tourist season for real on March 6 through 13. This 94th rendition of our oldest and most revered tradition will have the usual activities, ice skating, curling, snowmobiling and other winter sports and a presentation of King Lear on the Historical Society’s outdoor stage, but this year there will be a curling challenge. The local team, The Mudgap Whiskers, has tossed down the gauntlet to all comers and expect entrants from as far away as Irondequoit New York. I understand a fence will restrict snowmobile traffic from approaching Rooster's Bluff.

July Fourth will again be the bellwether tourist event for Mudgap. In addition to the usual street vendors, family games and a repeat of the traditional Shakespeare bash at the Opera House, this year will be marked by the return of a long lost tradition with the fireworks. The Lownde family has resurrected the famous Mudgap fireworks machine from the seventies and will be supervising its use for the grand finale fireworks display near Arieros Park.

Our own Bear Hill Players will be staging their tenth rendition of Emerson Stockton Bardwell's famous, The American Pilgrim, at the Estatua Opera House From August 12 to 13. This legitimate claim to serious theatre, made more legitimate last year by receipt of the prestigious Bardwell Award, will again mark the cultural high point of Mudgap Society. If you haven't already secured tickets better not delay.

The annual production by Mudgap's Bear Hill Players of its on dramatization of Lewis Carroll's, "The Hunting of the Snark" will be presented again on October 14 through 17. I am told the production will again feature musical numbers but the score will be more traditional this year, more in the Rodgers and Hammerstein tradition.

Well, I think that's it for now. I hope to do a posting soon on new activities at the Mudgap Historical Society. This time of year is difficult for me but I should be able to bang something out soon.