Frontier Day

A visitor listens to a talk on the early Frontier Days in Magdalena.

A full-blown festival celebrating the Southwest’s heritage and the history of Magdalena is happening this Saturday, June 1, with the Second Annual Frontier Festival, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Activities and demonstrations are scheduled in and around the original Santa Fe Railroad Depot and Box Car Museum in Magdalena on North Main Street.

The Frontier Festival is the brainchild of the Box Car Museum’s curator, Judyth Shamosh, who enlisted the help of dozens of willing volunteers. She said last year’s inaugural event was so successful that making it an annual event was never in doubt.

“We estimated attendance was around 800,” Shamosh said. “The lectures were very popular, the Farr’s chuck wagon fare was excellent, kids had fun walking on stilts, tossing bean bags, and churning butter. People were talking about how much fun they had and asked about coming back next year.”

Visitors to the Frontier Festival will be able to stroll among and interact with locals in period costume and learn how people lived in New Mexico’s pioneer days. Not only that, but chow down on authentic chuck wagon grub, served from the historic Farr family’s chuck wagon that was on the last cattle drive on the Magdalena stock driveway in 1971.

Last year’s chuck wagon chow turned out to be a highlight for many; receiving rave reviews.

“Thanks to everyone that helped make the Frontier Festival a wonderful day,” one attendee said. “I enjoyed the games as much as the kids, and the chuck wagon lunch was excellent.”

Socorro County Commissioner Ray Martinez added his accolades. “All the individuals that worked hard to put on the Frontier Festival did an excellent job,” Martinez said, adding that the “chuck wagon food by the Farrs was excellent, also. Everyone that I talked to had nothing but good things to say about it.”

Chuck wagon lunch tickets can be purchased from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Among the demonstrations on pioneer life skills going on Saturday will be blacksmithing, Dutch oven cooking, soap making, Native American weaving and jewelry making, old-time kids’ toys and games, wood carving, horno baking and cooking, Anasazi pot making demonstration, tortilla making, wool spinning and more.

“Combined with the grand opening of the completely renovated Boxcar Museum, the festival flowed very nicely,” Catron County’s Kelly Gatlin observed following last year’s event.

The Box Car Museum, once the property of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad showcases artifacts and rare photographs framed and mounted. One end of the boxcar was designed as a faux mine entrance representing the miners’ experience in the Magdalena Mountains. Also featured is a gift shop with unusual mementos for you to take home to recall your enjoyment in this uncommon, interactive, and pint-sized but comprehensive museum experience.

In addition, look for:

• Art openings and live music

• Shoot-out reenactments

• Harvey House Museum women

• Southwest Model Railroad Club with miniature railroad setups

• Old West saloon girls, madams, and bordellos presentations

• Santa Fe railroad history including tools, uniforms

• Old west laundress

• Period clothing

• Antique Model A car show

Entertainment lasts throughout the festival with lively music by Tuesdays@Two, cowboy singer Earl Gleason, Spanish songs by Chuy and Friends, and western swing by Tom Hunt on saxophone.

The Frontier Festival will also feature informative talks on the Magdalena Stock Driveway, New Mexico railroads, and the Mines of Kelly. Socorro’s Train Gang member Jon Spargo will give an entertaining update on the steam locomotive ATSF 2926, which has been undergoing restoration in Albuquerque.