A Night at the New Mexico Centennial Ball

- January 9, 2012

"what a night it was, a memorable way to mark such a rare and momentous occasion! "

The Santa Fe Convention Center was packed with more than 800 people dressed in tuxedos, gowns and period costume reflecting 1912 for the New Mexico Centennial Ball, held on Statehood Day, Friday January 6, in honor of New Mexico's 100th anniversary of statehood.

Guests were greeted by the lively music of Mariachi Espuelas de Plata, made up of middle and high school musicians from Las Cruces. At 6 p.m., Star Feather singers and drummers from the Pueblo of Jemez performed in their native Towa language. By 6:30 p.m., the main lobby was filled with people toasting the occasion with flutes of champagne deftly being passed around the room by well-dressed servers. Guests checked in, checked their coats and visited with friends and dignitaries including senators, city councilors, Mayor Coss and the governor.

Guests were decked out in period hats with feathers, long velvet gowns with rows of buttons, Stetson hats, cowboy boots and bolo ties, and in the case of my husband and me, a Spanish Colonial bolero and a black gown, Spanish shawl and fan and mantilla held high with a peineta. Others wore top hats and handlebar mustaches or flapper dresses with sequins. There were also contemporary dresses that revealed tattoos on shoulders and arms.

In one room, a silent auction was underway, as guests bid on a Ski Santa Fe package, a spa day package, luxury luggage and an arrow feathers shawl, as well as paintings, jewelry, sculpture and other items.

The ballroom was beautifully decorated with elegant tables, chairs draped with fabric and party favors to take home at every place setting – New Mexico Centennial coffee mugs and small bags of piñon coffee from the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company.

As the evening began, Mayor David Coss welcomed the guests, followed by remarks by the Grand Centennial Ball Committee leaders and a welcome from Gov. Susanna Martinez, who urged diners to donate to her initiative, the Centennial Children's Legacy Fund. After a Happy Birthday song to New Mexico, performed by Jovita Janeth Enriquez, guests dined on the first course – rare seared Ahi tuna with ginger soy emulsion and fiesta salsa – and Master of Ceremonies Steven Michael Quezada, who plays the DEA Steven Gomez on the hit television series Breaking Bad, walked around the floor entertaining the crowd with jokes and stories.

Next came the entrée, Chimayo chile-rubbed beef short ribs with a maple demi-glaze, green chile-whipped Yukon potatoes and grilled asparagus and roasted tomato. Then the Centennial Celebration Birthday cake was rolled out to the ballroom floor, a white, tiered cake baked by the ABC Cake Shop, which was cut and served for dessert. The cake was accompanied by coffee from the award-winning local coffee roaster, New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company.

At 9 p.m., Hillary Smith and Soul Kitchen took the stage, and the dance floor quickly filled up with couples whirling and twirling until the clock reached 10:30, and the ball came to an end. As guests exited, they picked up commemorative calendars and publications celebrating New Mexico's Statehood, and the magical evening came to a close. But what a night it was, a memorable way to mark such a rare and momentous occasion! Happy Statehood, New Mexico!