The second annual New Mexico Prickly Pear Festival went online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting an on-hands event to online workshops and discussions on Sept. 12.
Will Thomson, the event’s coordinator, said the goals of the event were “to increase the market for prickly pear and make it a resource for farmers, food producers and food businesses in New Mexico (and) to center prickly pear’s history as an Indigenous food in the U.S. Southwest.”
Attendees could order items online and pick them up at a specified drive-through location during the day.
Registration for the event was free due to financial struggles caused for the public in wake of the pandemic, but a suggested donation was also an option. Profits went to a COVID-19 relief fund for hard-hit Indigenous nations through Pueblo Alliance Action, as well as Three Sisters Kitchen.
Thomson said it’s been challenging transitioning to the online space.
“It’s been a bit more work, but it’s been actually kind of fun to figure out a different way to bring stuff to people this year,” Thomson said.
Representatives from various food establishments in New Mexico held presentations at the event, such as Three Sister’s Kitchen, Kids Cook!, Red Mesa Cuisine and Sister Bar.
The event ended with performances from local musicians Liz Howdy and Lara Manzanares.
Despite being held online this year, locals still attended to see what the event had to offer.
Martin O’Keefe, a local customer, said, “We were just curious, so we just stopped, parked and walked over here.”
O’Keefe said that he will be attending the event again next year.
“I’d love to see it when it’s opened up and everyone can come back and enjoy it ... After everything settles down, I bet you it would be really great to experience," he said.
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O’Keefe also talked about why this kind of local event is important.
“Local vendors can get their products out and do their marketing and branding. It’s something different than your mainstream store bought products,” O’Keefe said.
Thomson said the pandemic hasn’t impacted them that much, other than a lack of staff and volunteers.
23 vendors attended the event, the main vendors being New Mexico Prickly Pear Jam Company, A&J Farms, Santa Fe Cider Works and Fat City Treats and Sweets. Main sponsors for the event were Red Rock Roasters, Viewcy and Three Sisters Kitchen.
Jesus Mata is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JesusMataJr99