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Casa San Ysidro celebrates New Mexico's heritage online

Casa San Ysidro in Corrales, New Mexico has been hosting Heritage Day annually in May for more than a decade to celebrate the state’s history, art and culture.

For the first time, this year’s event took place online.

Casa San Ysidro has been closed since March because of COVID-19. Instead, the free event shifted online via the history museum’s website between 1-4 p.m.on May 16.

This year's iteration of Heritage Day involved 16 different artists each practicing different forms of traditional New Mexican art, including blacksmiths, wood workers, jewelry makers, weavers and many others.

"Each year in May, Casa San Ysidro joins the Corrales Historical Society in celebrating local heritage with a free event that exhibits the living traditions of New Mexico," Casa San Ysidro site manager Aaron Gardner said.

Typically, 300 to 500 people attend the event at the museum each year.  This year about 137 people indicated that they were interested or going on Facebook.

"Casa San Ysidro has been presenting Heritage Day for over a decade, and it's a great opportunity to highlight the traditional arts in New Mexico including visual arts, music, storytelling and agricultural practices," Elizabeth Becker, the curator of education for Albuquerque Museum, said.

The traditional celebration was, like many other facets of life, upended by the viru and the format of the event was transformed from in-person to online.

"Throughout the day, participants may usually visit with a local blacksmith as he works the forge, try traditional horno baked bread, partake in a farmers market, learn how to create Spanish colonial crafts like tinwork art and straw inlay, spin and weave wool with Las Arañas and learn gardening techniques with the Sandoval County master gardeners," Gardner said about the event in past years.

The events this year looked a little different than a normal year, but Heritage Day still worked to keep history alive with videos and documents from the museum.

"Our regular program is reliant on in-person experiences, so this will be very different," Gardner said. "Heritage Day online will be a way for people to learn about the state's wonderful traditions and engage in activities from the safety of their homes."

The annual event is important both culturally and economically for Casa San Ysidro and the community of Corrales, as it brings tourists from across the state to appreciate New Mexico's history and culture.

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"The heart of Corrales comes alive with opportunities for people to engage with local and traditional activities," Gardner said. "Local artists skilled in New Mexico's traditional art forms showcase and sell their work and provide information on their craft."

This year's event was a collection of videos and documents from the museum. These included videos on traditional spinning and weaving with a focus on Southwest traditions, the New Mexican orquesta típica Lone Piñon performing with traditional dancers and "Tia with the Tortilla by Rosalia," in which audiences were instructed on how to make tortillas.

The documents provided included "Collections through the Eyes of Docents," which introduced audiences to artifacts from the museum.

Multiple documents on the cultural lineage of tinworking in territorial New Mexico and instructions on how to begin tinworking were also featured alongside documents about the history of spinning and weaving in the Southwest.

"I think Heritage Day lets New Mexicans celebrate what makes us unique," Becker said. "Whether you are a newcomer or a person whose family has lived in the state for centuries, you can appreciate the creativity, innovation and resilience of those who shape the community we know today."

The Albuquerque Museum — which owns and operates Casa San Ysidro — is working to put many of their normally in-person resources and exhibits online, which are now available to the public for free.

"I believe this event is always a way for people to not only learn about the rich history of New Mexico but find inspiration from the heritage that has endured," Gardner said. "My hope is that this event will be a way for people to liberate themselves from some of the daily uncertainty our current situation holds and seek what has inspired New Mexicans to be resilient through the state's hardships."

Loreena Cain is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @loreena_cain

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