Ira Gordon’s Adventures at Winter Fiesta

Ira G - February 9, 2012

"Come with me through 10 days of the best Santa Fe has to offer...

Whether you were a visitor to Santa Fe during this year’s Winter Fiesta or a resident of the City Different, you couldn’t have been at a loss for things to do!  The more athletic types hopefully took advantage of the stellar ski conditions we’ve been experiencing while resorts around the country are slumping through unseasonably barren conditions.  Me?  I was up for eating and being entertained and here’s how I spent the ten days.

Happy Hour at the Agave Lounge, connected to the Eldorado Hotel, seemed like the best place to start on Friday night.  This has become one of my favorite haunts in town since its grand opening.  The sleek ambience, tasteful “living room”, and large fireplace always make me feel comfortable.  The birthday party going on at the next table and the arrival of Bri Cimino and the crew from Lotus Organic Hair Salon certainly livened up the atmosphere as Happy Hour stretched long into the night.

Saturday morning, I hosted this year’s Super Bowl competition, not an official Winter Fiesta event but well-worth mentioning, as the attendees stuffed themselves with exotic soup concoctions through early afternoon.  Jambo Café won its third straight “Best Soup” award and Sherry Hooper of The Food Depot took home a big check to feed the less fortunate this year. 

While I went home to rest afterwards, my three out-of-town visitors, hereafter known as the Cupcakes, used their Fiesta passes to avail themselves of the downtown shopping experience.  By Saturday night, I was back on my feet for the Grupo Fantasma dance concert at Farmer’s Market Pavilion.  Arriving too late to catch the opening band, Grupo was already in full swing and none of us dared the dance floor, content to catch the swirling dervishes from afar who expertly weaved their way through tamer devotees.

Sunday we drove to the Cowgirl for dinner before the Second City Comedy Troupe show, but DJ Yon’s numerous fans occupied every table during his live broadcast.  So it was across the street to the Zia Diner for their comfort food, after remembering that they had hosted the Happy Hour party for Fiesta participants the night before.  We filled our tummies with yummies and then worked our meals off with belly laughs back at the Pavilion.  It was the first time I had seen the Second City group since a show years ago at the now defunct paramount Nightclub and Bar B. 

By the time The Cupcakes departed for their home base in Colorado, I was going down for the count from the hoopla.  I missed out on the early week events, some of them I really wanted to catch such as The Strange, opening for The Features.  Eric Davis, capably filling in for me on the radio, interviewed this striking local band that afternoon and I was sorry to miss the concert.  I celebrated my birthday in bed in a Nyquil haze with a stack of DVDS, rallying for the latter activities of the week. 

Thursday, I hosted the Happy Hour at Del Charro, the downtown “watering hole”, with a great bartender who fed my cold with terrific hot toddies, and attentive waitresses decked out in their finest Heineken earrings.  It was great mix of locals and tourists, all gobbling up the reasonably-priced fare and the absolutely free Fiesta passes for the upcoming final weekend. 

And WHAT a weekend!  Friday kicked off with WinterBrew, the New Mexico Brewers Guild beer and food tasting from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Farmers Market Pavilion. Thirsty revelers streamed in when the doors opened and the line didn’t let up until closing.  Local restaurants were also represented and I did get to try delicious enchiladas from the Zia diner and a stunningly good pork belly chalupa from Second Street Brewery.  Lots of local celebs mingled in the crowd like Dave Hayduk (Hayduk Advertising), Simon Brackley (Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce), and Jodi Vevoda, Dave Herndon and Cheryl Jamison (publisher, editor, and food writer for New Mexico Magazine respectively). 

As snowflakes swirled outside, it was off to the airport for my late-night pick up of JJ Grey and MOFRO, the Saturday evening entertainment at the Farmers Market Pavilion.  It was a great run to Albuquerque and back, hearing of their recent band adventures and their musical picks of artists they wanted me to hear.  Did they rock the socks off of all attending their Saturday night show?   Did the Cowgirl host the grand finale of Winter Fiesta with a “Big Game” blowout on Super Sunday?  I think you know the answer to both those questions and I also think you better not miss next year’s Winter Fiesta!