This Labor Day weekend, locals will have a chance to gather at the EXPO New Mexico State Fairgrounds and relish in their New Mexican pride.
The New Mexico Tourism Department has teamed up with EXPONM to host the inaugural New Mexico True Fest: a showcase of all things grown, made and raised in New Mexico.
Chris Goblet, executive director of the New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association, said he came up with the idea for New Mexico True Fest when EXPONM asked him to present an idea for the holiday weekend.
“I told them New Mexico True Fest (would be) a fun, new way to feature New Mexico products and get the manufacturers of those products in front of a big audience,” Goblet said. “So I talked the wine growers into moving the Wine and Jazz festival ... over to the Fairgrounds, and then I talked to the tourism department about putting together the two festivals.”
Goblet said he thought a local food, wine and beer festival would be the perfect gathering place for those involved in the tourism department’s New Mexico True Certified project. Certified products are 100 percent made, grown or raised in this state; they range from local produce to manufactured ice cream, he said.
In four months, Goblet’s idea for a food, beer and wine festival evolved into a “multi-agency collaboration” that fuses parts of the New Mexico Wine and Jazz Festival, the New Mexico State Fair and other local state festivals, he said. There will be food, alcohol, live music, rides, children’s activities, a hot-air balloon, giveaways and other “surprises” for people attending, Goblet said.
“The idea for True Fest is that we’re going to talk to locals and tourists (because) we want people ... to take the flavors of New Mexico home with them. Labor Day weekend will have a lot of visitors from out of town,” Goblet said. “So, ultimately, True Certified is helping to get New Mexico products out of our state, but it starts from promoting that in-state.”
Goblet said he intends for New Mexico True Fest to become an annual event, with each festival growing and reaching more people – within and outside of the state – than the last. He estimates this year’s festival will feature about 150 vendors, which only fills up about one-third of the available space, leaving lots of room for growth.
He said one aspect that will help with that growth is the fact that the event is free. Visitors driving will need to pay a $5 fee to park on the Fairgrounds, but there is no admission cost. Those who choose to come on a bicycle will be able to ride on a pump track with their bike and take advantage of a free bike-parking valet service.
Goblet said the agencies were able to afford free admission by using a combination of vendor fees, parking fees, sponsorships from local businesses and advertising to pay for the event.
“It’s a labor of love. We’re not trying to make money on it,” he said. “We’re just trying to become Albuquerque’s favorite Labor Day event – maybe even New Mexico’s favorite Labor Day event.”