Magdalena’s annual party back for 43rd year

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After a water shortage nixed the event last year in Magdalena, the Old Timers Reunion is back on this year and happening this weekend.

John Larson - El Defensor Chieftain: The 2014 Old Timers Queen will be Kate Saulsberry. She was chosen by those attending the April 9, 2013 meeting of the Old Timers Reunion Association. Queen Kate is joined by former royalty: 1998 Queen Stella Contreras, Saulsberry, 2014 runner-up Elsie Case, 2011 Queen Lorraine Trujillo, 2012 Queen Cissy Reynolds , 2000 Queen Wanda Mansell, 1993 Queen Charlotte Henderson and 1999 Queen Dolly Dawson.

On June 17, 2013 the situation in Magdalena was different. With limited or no water available to support the 2,000 to 3,000 visitors coming into town, Mayor Sandy Julian, on the advice of then Old Timers Association Board of Directors president Martin Wellito, as well as a vote by the village board, pulled the plug on Old Timers.

A year later, the village is being served by three reconditioned wells, each previously thought to have gone dry. The three wells are being rotated, preventing each one’s submersible pump from being overworked, according to Joint Utilities Director Steve Bailey.

Magdalena Mayor Diego Montoya said he expects as many visitors to the village as in previous years.

“This year we are back bigger and better than ever with events with all the regular activities people expect,” Montoya said.

Fletcher Tigner, in his first year as Old Timers Reunion Association president, echoed Montoya’s words.

“We’re back,” Tigner said. “We’re got all the events people like and a couple of new ones, Dutch oven cooking and the rough stock rodeo.”

Activities at the rodeo arena start bright and early Friday with the Stick Horse Rodeo at 8 a.m., where kids six and under are seen riding their wooden steeds in a variety of contests that simulate traditional rodeo events. There is no entry fee.

The grand entrance for the Kids Rodeo happens next at 9 a.m. when the older ones, ages 6 to 18, get the chance to ride and rope for the spectators in the grandstand. A new event during the Kids Rodeo will be Dummy Roping, where youngsters – aged 6 and under, and 7 to 10 – try to rope a hay bale cow.

Winners will be getting buckles from Hendren Buckles in Albuquerque.

“Winners of all the rodeos will be getting the buckles,” organizer Charlotte Perkins said. “Rayne Hendren, a Magdalena graduate, will be making the buckles.”

Friday afternoon food vendors will be open for business.

Indian Village, located south of the rodeo arena, will be providing the Old Timers crowd with a wide variety of Native American dancers and food. Visitors can sample fry bread, mutton and more from Alamo vendors.

Friday night the band Suavecito provides the entertainment for the alcohol-free Street Dance beginning at 9 p.m. on North Main Street near the Magdalena Public Library.

Saturday morning is the annual Old Timers parade, drawing up to 2,000 spectators along First Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. And, for its duration, Highway 60 traffic will be diverted at Chestnut on the east side of town and at Highway 107 on the west side.

The late Valentin D. Trujillo was chosen Old Timers Parade Grand Marshal in 2013. He passed away last August but will be remembered this year by a riderless horse. Known by many, Trujillo was a successful businessman as operator of Golf Plaza Exxon, Val’s Zia on Bridge, and Val & Sons of Rio Rancho until his retirement in 1992. Even after his retirement, Trujillo continued every possible business venture he could get his hands on. He most recently owned and operated the tire shop at the corner of First and Ash streets.

Anthony and Frank Trujillo still run their dad’s construction company, Val and Sons.

“The best advice I ever got from anybody was from my dad,” Anthony said. “You work hard and good things happen.”

Immediately after the parade, generally at about 11 a.m., is the annual BBQ lunch. The beef is cooked in an underground barbecue pit which was originally dug by V.D. Trujillo. Plates are $7 for adults, $4 for kids.

The crowning of Kate Saulsberry, who has the honor of being this year’s Old Timers Queen, will take place in front of the grandstand at noon. Originally from the Lordsburg area, Saulsberry and her husband Wayne moved to a ranch west of Magdalena from Quemado in 1972, and is well known in the community from her 20 years teaching at Magdalena Schools.

In the past 42 years in Magdalena, Kate and Wayne raised their three boys, Ty, Chad and Todd, who all graduated from Magdalena High School.

Queen Kate said she was excited about being chosen. “I felt very honored when they asked me to put my name in for consideration,” she said. “It’s going to be a fun thing.”

She retired in 2010 but said, “I’m not retired from everything. There’s always work on the ranch.”

The Century Rodeo and Roping gets underway right after the queen is crowned. The Century Rodeo is a highly respected tradition of Old Timers, featuring teams of two cowboys whose combined ages must add up to 100 or more.

For those wanting to learn what the old days in Magdalena were like, Old Timers story-telling will be held on the railroad loading dock at the public library at 1 p.m. Former Old Timers Queen Dolly Dawson will be reminiscing about earlier times and how she has seen the village change over the years.

The two new events are both on Saturday. The public will get to sample authentic ranch cooking 4 p.m. at the old time chuck wagon-type dinner prepared by area Dutch oven cooks. Each cook will prepare meals, which will then be sold to the public for $7 a plate, with all proceeds going to support trips and activities of the Magdalena FFA.

The first-time ever Rough Stock Challenge, presented by Nunn’s Frontier Rodeo, follows the cewntury Rodeo on Saturday. Tigner said there will no attendance charge for the public. “For the first ever we will have lights for the arena,” he said. “The lights were donated by Volvo Rents of Bosque Farms.”

The Saturday night dance starts at 8 p.m. on the concrete slab at the rodeo grounds. Music is provided by DJ Heavy C Carlos Vega. This is a no-alcohol dance, but refreshments will be available at a concession booth manned by the Yucca 4-H Club of Magdalena.

Bright and early Sunday morning the air around the rodeo grounds will be filled with sausage, bacon, and pancakes cooking on the grill. The pancake breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the $5 price goes to helping Magdalena’s volunteer fire department. Pancakes will be served until the batter runs out.

Those wishing to tackle the Magdalena to Kelly 7K Run/Walk must sign up at Village Hall at 6:30 a.m. Sunday. The run/walk begins at 7:30 a.m., and hopefully participants can make it back to town before the pancakes run out. Entry fee is $10.

The run begins just south of Village Hall, ending over four miles south and 900 feet higher in elevation with the finish line about 100 yards past St. John the Baptist Church in Kelly. Water stations manned by volunteers will be situated along the way.

The weekend wraps on Sunday beginning with church services conducted by Cowboys For Christ from Las Cruces.

The final event in the rodeo arena starts at 9 a.m. Sunday when Jackpot Roping begins.