Socorro’s biggest annual event brings music to four stages

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The 11th annual SocorroFest, a weekend celebration of local and regional music and arts, kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. at the historic city plaza and continues through Saturday night.

SocorroFest, sponsored by the city of Socorro and put together by local volunteers, is an opportunity for families and friends to get together and spend the day listening to great music, feasting, sampling New Mexican wines and beers, checking out local artists’ wares, dancing, visiting or just plain having fun.

“SocorroFest started as a local music and arts festival to showcase Socorro musicians and artists, and branched out to include the whole state,” said co-organizer Ronna Kalish. “The whole thing is funded by the city. We’re all volunteers from the community.”

Kalish and a “bunch of Socorroans” checked out New Mexico bands at this year’s Silver City Blues Festival; she invited their favorites to perform at Socorro’s festival. They were looking for quality, danceable music that would bring people together.

“All of these bands have awards — for song writing, best band, best song,” she said.

Many have earned readers’ choice awards from Albuquerque-based publications like “The Alibi,” “Local IQ” and “ABQ Magazine.”

SocorroFest is eclectic, offering something for every musical taste, Kalish said, from Spanish to blues to rock. Out-of-town and local bands take the gazebo stage on the plaza, local musicians grace three other venues — a stage set up in the city hall parking lot, the Capitol Bar on the east side of the plaza and the Old Town Bistro north of the plaza. The harmonica contest will happen at the city hall stage on Saturday from 1 – 3 p.m.

A spirits tent will be located south of the plaza and within earshot of musicians playing on the gazebo, Kalish said. For $5, guests over 21 get a 2013 SocorroFest commemorative glass and tastes of New Mexico brews and wines.

“Everybody has to have an ID to get in the spirits tent,” organizer Jennifer Gonzales said. “Even your 80-year-old grandfather.”

For the younger set, there will be a fun zone for children in the parking lot north of the plaza. There will be a 22 foot giant double slide, two jumping balloons, a car obstacle course jumping balloon, and a party combo tube. The Pet Parade featuring costumed pets and owners returns, this time starting from Cottonwood Valley Charter School at the corner of Nelson and Neel streets. Lineup is at 11 a.m.; the parade starts at noon.

Twenty-eight booths offer an eclectic variety of hand crafted wares and services, everything from local honey products, jewelry and face-painting to kitchen gadgets and toys.

Hungry? Feast on fresh roasted corn, ribbon fries, funnel cakes, barbecue, hamburgers, burritos and more. If you arrive at 9 a.m. on Saturday, you’ll be in time to catch the Socorro Farmers Market at Elfego Baca Park north of the plaza. There will be local produce, meats and bakery goods for sale.

SocorroFest has been growing in popularity over the past decade, now attracting visitors from around the state and even farther afield. Last year, an estimated 1,200 people attended, Gonzales said. Organizers expect at least that number to attend this year.